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Healthy Weight for Females: How Much Should You Weigh?

written by: Michelle Burton • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 6/27/2011

When it comes to determining a healthy weight for females, the body mass index is an excellent place to start. Body mass index or BMI can help you determine if your current weight is in a "normal" weight range (for your height) or if it is in the underweight, overweight, or obese category.

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    Healthy Weight 101

    Many women are confused about what it really means to maintain a "healthy weight." A healthy weight for females varies greatly from woman to woman depending on a number of factors. These factors include but are not limited to height, frame, and level of activity. For example, athletes must maintain a certain weight range based on their level of activity and necessary level of performance, while pregnant women must maintain a certain weight based on the needs of the developing fetus.

    With so many factors and circumstances involved, how is it possible to determine a healthy weight for every individual female? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s all about BMI.

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    Adult Body Mass Index and Healthy Weight

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an effective method for determining whether not your current weight is healthy. The adult body mass index or “BMI” can help determine whether an individual is underweight, normal, overweight, or obese. If your BMI is less than 18.5, you are considered underweight. If it falls into the 18.5-24.9 range, you are a normal or “healthy” weight. If your BMI is 25.0-29.9, you are considered overweight. If your BMI is over 30, you are considered obese.

    To calculate your BMI, you will need to consider more than just your weight. To calculate your BMI you must translate your height into inches. For this reason, we cannot say a woman that weighs 165 pounds is overweight. If she is 5 feet tall, yes, she is considered overweight – obese even. But if the same 165 pound woman is 6 feet tall, she will likely fall into a “healthy” weight range.

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    Calculating Your BMI

    You may use an online BMI calculator or you may calculate your BMI on your own using a tape measure and a calculator. If you prefer to use an online BMI calculator, stick to trusted websites such as the official CDC website at www.cdc.gov. The official CDC website offers an accurate calculator with easy to read results.

    If you prefer to calculate your BMI on your own, jot down your weight in pounds. Multiply the figure by 703. Write the answer on a separate piece of paper. Now, multiply your height in inches by your height in inches (your height in inches squared). Divide the answer to your weight in pounds times 703 by your height in inches squared. This will give you your BMI. So remember, BMI = weight in pounds x 703, divided by height in inches squared.

    If your BMI is between 18.5-24.9, congratulations. Your weight is healthy for your height. Keep up the good work. If your BMI is over 24.9, you should consider enrolling in a weight loss program in order to improve your health. A low BMI can be just as unhealthy as a high BMI. If you are underweight, you can develop a number of conditions including anemia, osteoporosis, weakened immune system, and menstrual irregularities. Speak with your physician to develop a diet plan that can help you reach a healthy weight.

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    References

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity

    4770 Buford Highway, NE, MS/K-24

    Atlanta GA 30341-3717

    Phone: 800-CDC-INFO, 800-232-4636

    TTY: 888-232-6348

    Email: cdcinfo@cdc.gov

    Website: www.cdc.gov

    Healthline Networks, Inc. 660 Third Street

    San Francisco, CA 94107

    Phone: 415.281.3100

    Fax: 415.281.3199

    Website: www.healthline.com