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What is my healthy weight?

The quest for the ideal weight is something that’s familiar to many of us. Whether you’re concerned about your diet or worried about a lack of exercise, there are all sorts of factors you need to manage in order to avoid being classed as medically obese or underweight.

Here, we’ll look at ways you can find out how much you should weigh and what you need to do to get there. We’ll also look at the health risks of being overweight or underweight.

healthy weight

Height-to-weight ratio

There are plenty of healthy weight calculators available that will consider your height in order to determine your ideal weight.

This is logical, as a taller person will naturally be able to handle more weight than a shorter person. These graphs will help you plot your height and weight in order to see how close you are to your ideal weight (although it’s worth noting that many of them are intended for adults only and shouldn’t be used for children).

The lower and upper limits give you plenty of wiggle room, so there’s no reason this can’t be achievable. For example (as a guide):

  • If you’re 6ft tall, your ideal weight is between 9st 10lb (61kg) and 13st 3lb (84kg)
  • If you’re 5ft 5in tall, your ideal weight is between 7st 13lb (50kg) and 10st 11lb (68kg)

Calculating your BMI

Your body mass index (BMI) attempts to measure your body fat alongside your height and weight. Generally, a BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered okay.

However, a BMI of over 30 is thought to shorten your life expectancy by around three years, while a BMI over 40 can rob you of up to ten years.

Limitations of these calculators

It’s important to remember that while these calculators provide a good indicator, they aren’t perfect.

For example, many fail to take into account the user’s age, sex and ethnicity. You may also be required to provide your level of physical activity, which in many cases is quite objective and easy to fib about - people will likely have a different view of what a ‘high level’ is.

BMI, in particular, should be treated with caution. While it claims to measure fat, it in fact measures weight. This means that a musclebound person might receive results suggesting they’re overweight when they actually have very low body fat.

Ethnicity is a very important factor too, as it’s thought people who are ‘BME’ (Black, Asian or other ethnic minority) are at risk of certain medical problems even if their BMI is below 25. This issue has been explored at length, including by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Crucially, it also ignores the distribution of your body fat. As we’re about to find out, this is a pretty important factor.

What are the risks of being underweight?

With so much focus on avoiding obesity in the Western world, it can be easy to forget that being underweight is just as much of a risk to your health.

If you’re below the healthy weight for your height, you’re probably not getting the nutrients you need. This means you’re more likely to suffer from:

  • A poor immune system - This means you have an increased chance of catching viruses such as a cold.
  • Fragile bones - A lack of calcium and vitamin D in your diet can cause osteoporosis, meaning your bones will break more easily.
  • Fatigue - Your body needs to nutrients to turn into energy. A lack of nutrients therefore equals a lack of energy, which means you’ll feel constantly tired.
  • Fertility problems - Women may find that being underweight causes problems with their menstrual cycle.

When should you see a doctor?

If you’re a few pounds overweight, you probably already know what you need to do! A combination of eating a healthy diet and getting more exercise is key to fending off obesity.

However, if you’re classified as ‘obese’ or ‘very obese’ the time has come to take some serious action. Speak to our doctors about putting together a diet and exercise plan that’ll allow you to lose the weight safely and set realistic, achievable targets. If you’re binge eating as a result of mental problem such as depression, they can also help you address this situation.

If you’re underweight, it’s likely that the problem is slightly different. For whatever reason, your diet isn’t giving you everything that it should. It may that stress or emotional problems are the cause, or you may be suffering from a serious eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.

It’s vital that you get professional help to address any of these issues. Our doctors can support you on your journey towards any health goal, while they’re also able to write a referral letter if you need specialist treatment to help with your weight problem.

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