What’s Normal Weight for Her May Not Be for Him

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With America in a weight-related crisis, it is easy to see why there is a concern about certain matters regarding weight. Issues of dieting, healthy food, exercise and motivation are topics of conversation around the dinner table, at school and in the media. Entire talk shows are devoted to what comprises overweight and how to help people lose excess poundage.

The problem with such diatribes and discussions and heated debates is definition. Before you can start talking about who or who is not overweight (there is a clinical definition for obesity), you need to look at what is the normal weight of men and women.

Defining Normal

What exactly is normal? What does a normal person of a normal weight look like or, as is pertinent to this article, how much does a normal person weigh – male or female? The stages of being overweight are clearly defined. Physicians and other medical professionals use something called the body mass index (BMI).

What is the BMI?

The BMI is a measure of calculating what the normal, overweight and/or obese weight of any individual is. It is based on two characteristics of that person – their weight and their height.1 The BMI is reached by following this simple formula.

  • Weigh yourself on a reliable scale – no cheating. Round it off to the nearest pound.
  • Measure your height. Make sure it is in inches.
  • Take the two figures and divide your weight by your height. This will give you the first figure
  •  Take the result and multiply it by 703
  • The result will be your BMI

While you can do this manually, many prefer to access any of the calculators available on line. Alternatively, you can find them in many books on nutrition, dieting, weight loss and weight loss programs.2

Factors determining the BMI for Normal Weight

A normal range for a BMI is said to be between 18.5 and 24.9. Anything below is perceived as underweight; anything above is overweight. The numbers given provide individuals, male and female, with a range. This range, however, can alter according to age. The BMI does vary according to age, but many indexes indicate a range that is applicable for both genders. The BMI is not affected by racial makeup or ethnicity.

Body Mass Index Ranges For Adults

Category BMI Range
Severely Underweight Under 16.0
Underweight 16.0 to 18.5
Normal Weight From 18.5 to 25
Overweight 25.0 to 30.0
Obese Class I 30.0 to 35.0
Obese Class II 35.0 to 40.0
Obese Class III Over 40.0

What does the BMI Miss?

The BMI system is not perfect. In fact there are several problems with the BMI. It can result in people of a normal weight being considered overweight and overweight people being classified, according to the BMI, as normal. This is the result of the BMI not being able to record:3

  • The amount of fat on a body
  • The difference between muscle and fat
  • The overall distribution of body fat on the individual. A BMI does not tell you whether the excess fat is on your thighs or your waist.

As a result, the BMI does not consider a small muscular individual to be of normal weight. His or her weight is all muscle and little fat, but the BMI does not and cannot determine this. When it comes to slender or thin elderly individuals, the BMI may also err. They may fall within the right BMI range, but their body is comprised of far more fat than is healthy for them. This leads to a category called normal weight obesity.

Beyond Body Mass Index (BMI)

As noted previously, the BMI does not provide you with a valid indicator of fat measurement. If this is required, there are other means and equipment. Among these are

  • A caliper – is a means of measuring the skin folds on your body. It can be converted into fat percentages but with some difficulty. This is due to various different equations.
  • Bioimpedance analysis– This is often found in gyms but medical professionals also have the electronic device. Bio-impedance analysis or BIA is a diagnostic tool. The intent of using BIA provides you with an estimate of the composition of your body including fluid, tissue and other vital elements of the body.
  • Waist measurement

Why Concern yourself with your BMI?

If your body has a high BMI and you are not muscular, this is an indication of the need to watch your weight. If you progress any further along the path you are taking, you could up being overweight or even obese. This in turn results in a variety of health issues. You can easily avoid them now by taking the next step.

The Next Step

If your BMI is not normal, do not panic. Take the next steps.

  • Talk to your doctor and a nutritionist about the current state of your body including your BMI, your diet and exercise regimen, if any.
  • Look closely at what you are eating. What are you eating? Do you eat too much? Do you devour food that falls in the wrong categories of the MyPlate government recommendations?
  • Examine what do you regarding exercise? Do you have an exercise program? Do you walk, hike, play a sport, work out in the gym or engage in any form of physical activity on a regular basis?

Following this, you may find it necessary to adopt a weight loss program. A weight loss diet need not be severe at this stage. If more severe measures are required, you may need to consult professionals or enroll in a formal weight loss plan.


1 National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (2011). “Calculate Your BMI.” Retrieved from www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

2 American Heart Association (2011). No-Fad Diet 2nd Edition. New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers.

3 Greene, Bob (2010). The Life You Want. New York: Simon & Schuster.


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