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What Is The Ideal Body Weight For Women?

What is the true ideal body weight for women? Is there actually such a thing? Probably the great majority of women in the western world have asked themselves that question. Hopefully this article may help clarify things for you…

It’s fairly true to say people in Western Civilization countries are thinking about their health and weight more than ever before. This shouldn’t be surprising, because attractive though it is, our western lifestyles more obese and unhealthy than ever before. So much so in fact than children born in the last 10-15 years are now expected to have shorter lifespans than their parents – something I find quite shocking.

The desire to maintain a healthy body weight is of course spread over both sexes, but is generally more marked in females, and many wonder what the ideal body weight for women is.

The Ideal Body Weight (IBW) Concept

A concept known as the “Ideal Body Weight” (IBW from now on)¬† is generally what most medical practitioners focus on when determining obesity and healthy body mass. It’s used for example in determining the need for bariatric¬† surgery – in order to qualify a prospective patient needs to be at least 100 lbs over their IBW.

Surprisingly perhaps, the IBW theory isn’t anything new. In fact it was developed way back in 1943. Partly as a result of World War Two. The army wanted fit and trim soldiers, ones who weren’t carrying round excessive weight. The problem was that no-one could really state what an ideal body weight should be for any one particular individual. So, a committee of doctors was organised to provide answers and they eventually came up with the chart shown below.

IBW isn’t the only ideal body weight concept of course. For example over the last thirty years or so the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart was developed, and it came up with rather different figures. However it’s popularity seems to be on the wane, and mainstream medical thinking is veering back to IBW

The IBW Chart

Here is the chart first developed in 1943 and still in use today:

HeightIdeal Body WeightHeightIdeal Body Weight
4ft 6in63 - 77 lbs4ft 6in63 - 77 lbs
4ft 7in68 - 84 lbs4ft 7in68 - 83 lbs
4ft 8in74 - 90 lbs4ft 8in72 - 88 lbs
4ft 9in79 - 97 lbs4ft 9in77 - 94 lbs
4ft 10in85 - 103 lbs4ft 10in81 - 99 lbs
4ft 11in90 - 110 lbs4ft 11in86 - 105 lbs
5ft 0in95 - 117 lbs5ft 0in90 - 110 lbs
5ft 1in101 - 123 lbs5ft 1in95 - 116 lbs
5ft 2in106 - 130 lbs5ft 2in99 - 121 lbs
5ft 3in112 - 136 lbs5ft 3in104 - 127 lbs
5ft 4in117 - 143 lbs5ft 4in108 - 132 lbs
5ft 5in122 - 150 lbs5ft 5in113 - 138 lbs
5ft 6in128 - 156 lbs5ft 6in117 - 143 lbs
5ft 7in133 - 163 lbs5ft 7in122 - 149 lbs
5ft 8in139 - 169 lbs5ft 8in126 - 154 lbs
5ft 9in144 - 176 lbs5ft 9in131 - 160 lbs
5ft 10in149 - 183 lbs5ft 10in135 - 165 lbs
5ft 11in155 - 189 lbs5ft 11in140 - 171 lbs
6ft 0in160 - 196 lbs6ft 0in144 - 176 lbs
6ft 1in166 - 202 lbs6ft 1in149 - 182 lbs
6ft 2in171 - 209 lbs6ft 2in153 - 187 lbs
6ft 3in176 - 216 lbs6ft 3in158 - 193 lbs
6ft 4in182 - 222 lbs6ft 4in162 - 198 lbs
6ft 5in187 - 229 lbs6ft 5in167 - 204 lbs
6ft 6in193 - 235 lbs6ft 6in171 - 209 lbs
6ft 7in198 - 242 lbs6ft 7in176 - 215 lbs
6ft 8in203 - 249 lbs6ft 8in180 - 220 lbs
6ft 9in209 - 255 lbs6ft 9in185 - 226 lbs
6ft 10in214 - 262 lbs6ft 10in189 - 231 lbs
6ft 11in220 - 268 lbs6ft 11in194 - 237 lbs
7ft 0in225 - 275 lbs7ft 0in198 - 242 lbs

Factors Affecting Your Ideal Body Weight

It’s really important though that you don’t become a slave to this chart. The realistic ideal body weight for women is going to be affected by a number of different factors. Among these are

  • Age. We all tend to increase body weight as we get older, it’s quite normal and to be expected, so don’t obsess about keeping to the same weight range when you’re fifty and when you were thirty. It’s a sure-fire way to unhappiness
  • Fat to muscle ratio. With people who have higher than average muscle development such as athletes or those doing a lot of weight training, using the above chart can give false concepts of what your IBW should be
  • Gender. Women’s weight can be affected by hormonal changes to a greater degree than for men. This is especially true in pregnancy and for a period after giving birth and of course following menopause
  • Bone density. Some people really do have heavier bones than others, it’s not a myth. This is obviously going to affect what the true IBW should be for these people.
  • Pretty well all doctors agree that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is more important than focusing just on an ideal body weight. Factors such as smoking, excessive drinking and lack of exercise will ultimately have a more damaging effect than carrying a few extra pounds.

So basically the message is: use the above chart as a guide, but don’t let it run your life.

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