Just what is the correct weight for your height? Insurance companies have been using such height and weight data for years in their actuarial tables to help calculate risk of death when setting life insurance rates. Your doctor has a chart for correct weight for different heights as well.
The correct weight for your height is determined by a number called your Body Mass Index, or BMI. This is your weight divided by the square of your height. What you probably didn’t know is that this measure of to correct height for your weight is almost 200 years old! That’s right; it was invented in Belgium sometime around 1840.
Although it is widely used by insurance companies and health care practitioners, the BMI as a measurement for weight has a major flaw. It does not look at body composition, only the weight with relation to height. That means that a very physically fit individual could be deemed overweight, even though they have an extremely low body fat level. This has in fact happened to people, who have been informed that they were overweight, and could not qualify for certain jobs, although they were actually in extremely good physical condition.
In addition, the BMI is supposed to be used as a general guide for populations, not so much for individuals, and it does not differentiate between men and women, although the different sexes have substantially different body compositions. Women are in great shape at a body fat percentage of 18%, while a man is sporting a belly fat roll at that body fat percentage. Even the World Health Organization and U.S. Center for Disease Control indicate that the “correct” BMI for individuals to be under to avoid being termed overweight is 25kg/m2.As can be easily demonstrated however, that is a gross oversimplification because men and women have different body compositions,
Here is an example:
According to the BMI chart, a man with a height of 6′ 3” would be overweight at body weight of 192 lbs. Many athletes however, are of similar height, but substantially heavier. For example, the average NFL strong safety is about 6’2” tall, but weighs about 210lbs, and is certainly not fat, having a body fat percentage of around 8% – 10%. That means you could be confronted by the situation of going to a physical for a job, only to be informed that you were overweight, although you were in top shape.
In some cases you may have no recourse after such a decision, even if you came back with your low body fat measurements, a quick 400 meter time, and a note from your doctor to prove you were in excellent shape.
Here are some ranges for BMI derived height and weight that have been deemed acceptable:
6’3” 145 lbs – 191 lbs
5′ 11” 132 lbs – 172 lbs
5’7” 120 lbs – 155 lbs
5’3” 98 lbs – 137 lbs
That gives you an idea of the correct weight for your height. If you are of above average musculature, you can be prepared to throw those recommended height and weight recommendations out the window however.