Its no wonder most of us are confused about what we should weigh. Never mind the advertisements showing slim-as-a-stick-of-gum young models; even the older adults look like they just ran the marathon; fit and slender, their energy could light a small city. Its just not realistic.
So, how can you figure out your ideal weight? Unfortunately, thats also confusing. One answer probably doesnt work for everybody -- and there are several factors that go into the equation. Here are some of the more important ones:
Waist to hip ratio
Keep in mind that genetics also plays a role.
Some weight experts say the best way to calculate your ideal weight is to use the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a calculation that considers your weight in relationship to your height. Heres how it works:
Take your weight and multiply it by 703. Then divide it by the square of your height in inches. For example, if you weigh 190 pounds and your height is 72 inches (6 feet) you multiply 190 by 703 and divide it by 5184. This equals a BMI of 25.76. Most experts agree a BMI between 18.5 and 25 is ideal.
But not only do you have to be a mathematician to calculate your BMI, the method is controversial. The BMI doesnt take into account all the factors that contribute to weight such as muscle mass, bone density, waist to hip ratio and genetics. Calculating these various factors, your ideal body weight may be very different than your neighbors.
Another way to go is with the Waist-hip ratio (WHR). Using this method, calculate the ratio of the circumference of your waist to that of your hips. Get a tape measure and wrap it around your waist. Measure the smallest circumference of your waist which is above your belly button. Next divide that number of inches by the circumference of your hip at its widest part. So, if a womans waist is 30 inches and her hips are 40, divide 30 by 40 and get 0.75. If this is the result, its good news. Less than 0.8 means a low risk of cardiovascular problems, as well as a slimmer chance of developing diabetes and most cancers.Men and women have different ideal WHRs. Generally, its better to have fat accumulating on your hips (pear shaped) than around your waist (apple shaped). Ask your doctor for a chart of WHR so you can calculate your risk and also discuss this method. There are still other methods that are used to calculate perfect weight, including muscle-fat ratio. Again, speak with your doctor about which method is best for you.Most importantly, eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, limit fats, sweets and processed foods and keep your portions a reasonable size. For example, the right portion of lean meat, chicken, or fish is 3 ounces, which looks like a deck of cards; a portion of cheese should be no more than 1.5 ounces or the size of 4 playing dice. When you go out to eat, check nutritional menus and avoid ordering fried foods. Steer clear of eating establishments that offer gigantic portions or all you can eat offerings. And of course, include the Holy Grail of Health: Exercise. Then no matter which method you use to calculate your ideal weight, chances are youll make the grade. Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger.See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.