Massachusetts Medical Society: What Is a Healthy Weight?

What Is a Healthy Weight?

Your weight affects your health. If your weight is above what is considered a normal weight, you could be more likely to develop certain diseases or health conditions.

How do you know if you are a healthy weight?
One measure of weight is called BMI, which stands for "Body Mass Index." BMI is a number, based on your height and weight, which can tell you if you are a "normal" weight, or if you are underweight, overweight or obese. In general, a healthy weight for adults is a BMI that is in the "normal weight" range. Overweight and obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that is more than what is generally considered healthy for a given height.

What is your BMI?
To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches, squared, and multiply by 703.

BMI = weight (lb) / height (in)2 x 703 

You could also use a BMI calculator or a BMI chart. Or at your next doctor's visit, ask your doctor to tell you your BMI, and write it down in your chart.

These tools will tell give you a number that is your BMI.

If you are an adult and your BMI is:

  • 18.5 or lower, you are considered "underweight"
  • 18.5 to 24.9, you are "normal weight"
  • 25 to 29.9, you are "overweight"
  • 30 or more, you are "obese"

Note: BMI may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build. BMI may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle.

BMI is only one piece of a person's health profile. Talk with your doctor about other measures and risk factors.

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