The scale doesn't lie — or so the saying goes. But when it comes to an ideal weight for a woman over the age of 60, there isn't an exact number to pinpoint.
"Since we're all very different people, there are no absolutes when it comes to the right body weight," Neha Vyas, MD, a specialist in family medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, tells LIVESTRONG.com. And some people who appear to be of normal weight might actually have overweight or obesity if their body fat percentage is on the high side, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Read on to learn the different factors that can tell you whether you're in a healthy weight range, including your BMI and waist-to-hip ratio.
Find Your BMI
"Most clinicians use body mass index numbers as an indicator of health," notes Dr. Vyas. BMI takes into account your height, weight and sex. "A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24," she adds.
18.5 - 24.9
For a fast and easy way to find your own BMI, use our online calculator.
Love math? Here's the formula for sussing out this number: Divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, and then multiply by 703.
Keep in mind that a BMI number has limitations, per the National Institutes of Health, in that it doesn't distinguish between fat and muscle. For example, BMI may underestimate the amount of body fat in those who are older or who have lost muscle.
Learn About Body Fat Percentage
Body fat percentage isn't generally measured by primary care physicians, but it may be beneficial to learn this number if you're a serious athlete, says Dr. Vyas. "And since there's a wide variability in body fat percentages, it really shouldn't be relied upon as a sole measure of good health," she adds.
Formulas for figuring out body fat percentage take into account your height and weight as well as hip, waist and neck circumferences. To find your body fat percentage number, grab a tape measure and use our handy tool.
For a general guideline, Harvard Health Publishing says a healthy percentage of body fat for women is between 20 and 30.
Read more: How to Estimate Your Body Fat Percentage
Calculate Your Waist-to-Hip Ratio
In Dr. Vyas's primary care practice, she carefully considers waist circumference because links to diabetes and high cholesterol have been found when this number creeps past 35 inches in women.
You'll need a basic calculator to perform this small bit of waist-to-hip math: Measure the smallest part of your waist and divide this number by the measurement of the widest part of your hips. "In women, a healthy waist-to-hip ratio should be less than .85," Dr. Vyas says.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Body Mass Index: Considerations for Practitioners"
- FamilyDoctor.org: "Good Health Habits at Age 60 and Beyond"
- Mayo Clinic: "Can you be considered obese if you have a normal body weight?"
- National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Should I know my percentage of body fat?"
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Calculate Your Body Mass Index"