The body mass index, or BMI, tables use the word "normal" to categorize the weight status of people who weigh between the underweight and overweight standards. Your height and weight determine your BMI. The weight-for-height tables use "desirable" rather than normal, but the tables' recommended weight ranges are considered the precursor of the BMI tables' recommended normal weight ranges. Many doctors use the word "ideal" rather than normal or desirable.
Maintaining a normal weight is important because overweight people are more likely to become seriously ill and die. Studies have shown that overweight middle-aged men and women have a higher risk of dying from all causes, according to "An Invitation to Health," a college textbook. You are at higher risk of colon cancer, diabetes, gallstones, heart disease and hypertension if your weight is above normal, the studies show. Obesity harms the heart more than smoking, the textbook reports.
Your official height on the weight-for-height table is the distance between the top of your head and the bottom of your feet when you are wearing shoes with 1-inch heels. You might have thought that you were 5 feet 6 inches tall, but your normal weight is 3 pounds higher if you are 5 feet 7 inches wearing shoes, according to the table. Women's official weight on the table factors in 3 pounds of indoor clothing and men's official weight factors in 5 pounds of indoor clothing.
Your normal weight depends on your body frame according to the weight-for-height tables, but not the BMI tables. The table does not define body frame, but it is medium if your thumb and middle finger of one hand touch each other when you wrap them around your opposite wrist, large if they don't and small if they overlap. If you are a 5-foot-7-inch woman, your normal weight is 123 to 136 pounds if you have a small frame, 133 to 147 pounds if you have a medium frame and 143 to 163 pounds if you have a large frame.
Men Vs. Women
Your gender is irrelevant, according to the BMI table. Your normal weight is 121 to 158 pounds if you are a 5-foot-7-inch woman or man. You get these numbers by looking at a table that shows your weight if you have a normal BMI--a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. You are overweight if you have a 25 BMI. Women have more body fat than men, so the decision in 1998 to get rid of separate BMI tables is one reason why the tables are flawed, according to Slate magazine's "Beyond BMI" article.
Your weight is just one way of determining whether you are at risk of obesity-related diseases. You are at less risk if you have a pear-shaped body with more pounds on your hips and thighs than if you have an apple-shaped body with more pounds on your waist. Women should be concerned if their waist is more than 35 inches around, according to "An Invitation To Health."