Due to the disease risk factors associated with obesity, it is important to maintain a healthy body weight. Determine a normal body weight through methods including ideal body weight equations, body mass index (BMI) charts, height-weight tables and body composition assessment. It is more accurate to think of an ideal weight range rather than one number.
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Ideal Body Weight Equations
The first equation for calculating ideal body weight is Broca's index, which was modified to calculate 100 lbs. for the first 5 feet and 5 lbs. for every inch over 5 feet for women. According to the Broca's index, at 5 feet, 4 inches tall, women should weigh 120 lbs. A more recent equation known as the Devine formula utilizes the same concept, except with kilograms. The ideal body weight according to this formula is equal to 54.7 kg or 120.59 lbs.
Body Mass Index
The BMI is a chart set up to indicate recommended weight ranges based on the equation of weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. The BMI chart lists categories of underweight, normal weight, overweight and obesity. The normal BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9. For a height of 5 feet, 4 inches, the normal weight range includes 110 to 145 lbs.
Metropolitan Life Tables
The Metropolitan Life tables were created in 1943 and were designed to list desirable weights according to body frame size. Body frame sizes are determined by elbow breadth or width. Each height has a corresponding weight range according to the body frame size. Those who measure 5 feet, 4 inches and have small frames should weigh 114 to 127 lbs., a medium frame should weigh 124 to 138 lbs. and a large frame should aim for between 134 and 151 lbs. The tables were designed with adults in mind and would not figure accurately for children or adolescents.
While body composition or body fat percentage does not correspond directly to a body weight, it is a significant measure in health status. Body composition may be measured through hydrostatic weighing, electrical impedence and skin fold measurements with calipers. The ideal body composition for women ranges from 14.5 percent body fat for women in their late teens and early 20s to 29 percent for women over the age of 60. The Cooper Institute also has a set of body composition standards for children, which list the Healthy Fitness Zone standards between 10 to 19 percent based on females ages 5 to 17.