What is the ideal weight for a person? Is the ideal weight different for different ages and genders?

The ideal weight for a person is always considered in association with his height. As other factors such as race, age and gender cannot be easily compared across the globe. The Internationally accepted measure for body weight is called BODY MASS INDEX.


BMI = Weight in Kilograms/Height in (meter)2

It is a simple measure which can give us an idea about our weight. On the basis of our BMI, we can be categorised as follows.



Now lets consider an example to see the use of BMI.

BOX 1:

We consider 2 persons ‘A’ and ‘B’.
A’ has a height of 6 feet [1.83 m] and weighs 80 kgs
B’ has a height of 5 feet [1.52 m] and weighs 80 kgs.

Whose weight is ideal?
On calculating their BMI,
BMI for ‘A’= 23.9
BMI for ‘B’= 34.6

As seen in Table: 1, we can say A fits the category of “Normal Weight”
B fits in the category of “ Class I Obesity”

Hence we can see how BMI helps us in categorising our body weight.

Does BMI have any limitations?

Yes BMI does have a few limitations.

  1. BMI is a measure for body weight and not for body fat. It does not give us any idea about the body fat distribution. Location of body fat is very important as explained in the article on body fat distribution.
  2. It does not take the ‘body build’ into consideration and hence an athlete may be categorised as overweight in spite of having a perfect body type.
  3. It also does not consider the ‘AGE’ of the person. Therefore we may categorise an elderly person as underweight when actually that may be the ideal weight for him at that age.

Keeping in mind these limitations of BMI calculation, we need to also have some other way of measuring the body fat distribution of a person.

‘Waist circumference’ gives us an idea of increasing body fat and level of risk of developing serious health problems.


Waist circumference is measured at the level midway between upper part of hip bone and lower end of rib cage.
i.e. at the level just above belly button with the help of a measuring tape. It is measured in Centimeters or Inches.


Waist circumference above the normal limit increases risk of getting affected with obesity related health hazards.

There is one more equally important parameter which gives an idea of visceral fat / abdominal obesity is Waist to Hip ratio


In simple words, it is a comparison of measurement of waist to that of hip.

Waist Hip Ratio= Waist circumference / Hip Circumference