As an adult, your weight may go up and down, but your height stays the same. Your weight and its relationship to your height can be used as tools to assess health. Knowing the general ranges of what's considered normal, or healthy, may help you see where you fall. If you're concerned about your weight as it relates to your height, talk to your doctor to help you understand how it might affect your health and what to do about it.
Weight and Height Ranges for Men and Women
Determining your ideal body weight for height isn't as easy as it sounds. A lot of factors need to be considered, such as frame size and body composition. Healthy weight ranges for height are available in a chart from the National Institutes of Health, but the ranges don't discern between men and women. For example, a healthy body weight range for a man or woman 5 feet 6 inches tall is 118 to 154 pounds. At 5 feet 10 inches, a healthy weight ranges from 132 to 173 pounds; at 6 feet, 140 to 183 pounds.
Based on height and weight data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average man in the United States is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 196 pounds, and the average woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 166 pounds. A healthy weight range for a person 5 feet 9 inches tall is 128 to 168 pounds; for 5 feet 4 inches, it's 110 to 144 pounds.
Estimating Ideal Body Weight for Height
Weight-for-height charts can give you an idea of where you stand in general, but the Hamwi method takes it one step further, separating the weights in ranges for men and women. This mathematical formula determines your ideal body weight, or IBW, based on your height and gender.
For men, the formula is:
IBW = 106 pounds + 6 pounds for every inch above 5 foot.
For example, at 5 feet 10 inches the IBW for a man is 166 pounds because 106 + (10 x 6) = 166.
For women, the formula is:
IBW = 100 pounds + 5 pounds for every inch above 5 foot.
For a 5-feet-4-inch woman, the IBW is 120 pounds: 100 + (4 x 5) = 120.
If you have a small frame, subtract 10 percent; for a large frame, add 10 percent. So, the ideal body weight for a large-framed 5-feet-10-inch man in the first example is 182 pounds. Just add 10 percent to his IBW: 166 + 16 = 182 pounds.
What About BMI?
Weight-for-height charts don't tell you much about your body fat, which is most important when it comes to health. The body mass index, or BMI, uses your height and weight to estimate body fatness. A BMI below or above normal is linked to health issues. As with Hamwi, a mathematical formula is used to estimate BMI. In this case, though, the equation for men and women is the same:
BMI = [weight in pounds /(height in inches x height in inches)] x 703
At 5 feet 10 inches tall and 182 pounds, your BMI is equal to 26.1, which is considered overweight whether you're a man or woman. Normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9; anything below these numbers is underweight. A BMI 25 to 29.9 is overweight, and 30 or greater is classified as obese. While BMI is considered a good marker for body fatness, it does not take frame size into account. If you're a muscular young man, like a weightlifter, your BMI may be artificially high and not give an accurate indication of body fatness. On the other end of the spectrum, if you're an older, sedentary woman with less muscle, your BMI may be normal even though you have too much body fat. If you're concerned about your BMI, talk to your doctor for details.
Things to Consider for Both Men and Women
Two out of every three adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Carrying more weight than is appropriate for your height increases your risk of a number of illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, nonalcoholic fatty liver and certain types of cancer. You may be upset if your weight is above your ideal for height, but losing 5 to 10 percent of your current weight -- even if it doesn't put you in your ideal weight range -- can significantly improve your health by lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure and improving blood sugar, according to the Obesity Action Coalition.
Although not as big a problem in the United States as being overweight or obese, being underweight can also be unhealthy and increases your susceptibility to infection and nutritional deficiencies. In this case, making strides to add weight to your frame can improve your health.
- Rush University Medical Center: How Much Should I Weigh?
- Health.gov: Weight and Height Chart
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Body Measurements
- California State University Northridge: HAMWI Formula for Ideal Body Weight
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About Adult BMI
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Overweight and Obesity Statistics
- Obesity Action Coalition: Benefits of 5-10 Percent Weight-Loss
- Today's Dietitian: Underweight: A Heavy Concern