I’m thinking what is the average weight for women … just so that we know
Are you wondering what is the average weight for women? Well, below is an average weight chart for women with height and weight. See how you compare.?
Those lines go up and up. Women DO gain weight until age 60, and it’s normal. Lower down the page, I’ll prove it to you. Finding out a healthy weight for you depends on your weight and height.
Before really using this weight chart to it’s fullest, you could go to the Women’s Height Chart and find your height percentile, then return to this chart and see if your weight percentile matches your height percentile.
That’s complicated. It’s easier to just use a Body Mass Index bmi calculator for women. It automatically adjusts “weight for height”.
The thick red line in the middle of this chart shows how women’s average weight tends to increase gradually, until about age 50 to 60 years, then it goes down.
The red lines show percentiles; The thick red line in the middle is the 50th percentile, which indicates that 50% of the women population have a weight that is heavier than the line and 50% are lighter.
Similarly, the highest red line, the 95th percentile, indicates the weight whereby 95% of the female population is lighter.
The chart shown above is for white race/ethnicity. What about other races?
- Average weight by race/ethnicity
- More interesting posts about average weight
- Charts for men
- Here you go. A chart of the average weight of women by age in pounds and kilograms.
- Has the obesity rate really gone up?
- Common Questions and Answers
- What is the average weight for Canadian women?
- What is the average weight a woman can squat?
- What is the average weight for women who are 5’6″ or 1.68 metres?
- What is the average weight for women who are 25-30 years old?
- What is the average weight of a 16 year old female?
- If you are above the ‘normal weight range’ or the average weight should you try to lose weight?
- Why look at the ‘Average weight chart for women’ rather then the body mass index (bmi)?
- Other Halls.md calculators:-
- Other Posts about Body Mass Index and Weight and Height Charts
- Recent Weight Loss Posts
- Recent Posts about Diets
- Recent Articles on Anxiety
- This Is How Much You Should Weigh Based on Your Height and Age
- Why does your weight matter?
- Your ideal weight
- Your weight as you age
- Your weight and disease risk
- How to get to (and maintain) a healthy weight
- What about BMI?
- Example BMI calculation — and what it means
- Is Being Overweight Unhealthy?
- What’s a Healthy Body Weight for Your Age?
- What’s Your Healthy Weight?
- Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
- Ideal Body Weight for Men
- Based on body mass index, optimised for men
- Body Mass Index
- Start a Free Trial Today
- What weight should a 55-year-old man be?
- What is the average weight for women?
- Body Mass Index Children US
- Higher BMI May Be Better for Older Adults
Average weight by race/ethnicity
For female Weight charts of other race/ethnic groups choose:
A little bit more about the Race-Ethnicity categories. You need to spice up this page, Doc. Be patient Moose – it’s only a few links for those interested in charts and averages. … and erm… apart from a few geeks, who would that be Doc?
More interesting posts about average weight
Here are some more links:
Learn about your Ideal Body Weight.
Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) here, and compare it using a Womens Body Mass Index bmi chart.
Charts for girls, average height for girls and average weight for girls are available here.
These are interesting because they show the average weight of children for their age. Also they can predict the tendency to develop obesity in adult life.
Got anything for men?
Charts for men
We have average weight for men and average height for men.
To find out exactly what you are looking for regarding health and weight charts check out our full index of charts.
Note: The NHANES III survey is the data base used for these charts. These statistics are from data from America between 1988 and 1994. John Hansen and I did the analysis to obtain the chart’s data points.
What is the average weight of a woman? Just tell me.
Here you go. A chart of the average weight of women by age in pounds and kilograms.
The average female American weight is somewhere between 60 to 72 kilograms, depending on age. ( for white females* in this table).
|Age:||20 to 29 years||30 to 39 years||40 to 49 years||50 to 59 years||60 to 69 years|
|These are the 50th percentile weights, that are very close to, but not exactly average.|
Created by Steven B. Halls, MD, FRCPC and John Hanson, MSc.
So if I was in my mid 30’s, the average weight is 144 pounds? But why does the CDC say the average is 166 pounds? Would you believe, Politics?
Has the obesity rate really gone up?
The Center for disease control and Prevention (CDC) is doing some number-massaging by averaging things together. The result of this is the average appears higher. For example, including super-obese people or using an average age that is higher.
The most recent surveys show we have the fattest people, but the overweight thresholds are based on much older surveys. Again the result is that the obesity rates appear much higher than they actually are.
I want to tell you something important. Weight gain during adult life is healthy. I have reviewed a few key articles in the post below. They say, by the time an adult reaches age 50 it is most healthy for their future longevity to have a body mass index of between 25 to 30.
Interestingly, this falls into the ‘overweight’ category according to the CDC. If it is the most healthy weight then it stands to reason that it can not also be defined as ‘overweight’.
Halls SB: Review of articles on Body Mass Index associations with obesity and mortality
What about those that fall into the ‘obese’ category? True, obesity has some health risks such as type diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. Many people die every day due to obesity. Be happy with a normal amount of body fat. Pay no attention to “overweight” labels. However, if you are obese it is time to take action.
Common Questions and Answers
What is the average weight for Canadian women?
The average weight for women in Canada is around 145 pounds at the average height of 5’4″ or 1.63 metres.
What is the average weight a woman can squat?
An appropriate squat weight varies greatly from one person to another. It depends on many factors such as your body weight, gender and current fitness level. The most common weight women squat is 10 pounds in each hand or 50% of body weight.
I squat sometimes – squat down to see what’s in the bottom of the fridge.
What is the average weight for women who are 5’6″ or 1.68 metres?
It all depends on your body type, especially the size of your body frame. For example, if you are a small frame the average weight would be between 120 and 133 lbs. For a medium frame the average weight would be 130 and 144 lbs. Finally, for a large frame the average weight is between 140-159 lbs.
What is the average weight for women who are 25-30 years old?
A woman aged 25 to 30 years old should weigh somewhere between 104 to 137 lbs depending on her height.
What is the average weight of a 16 year old female?
By the age of 16, many girls have reached their adult height. Sixteen year old females in the 50th percentile standing 5’4 (1.63 metres) tall will weigh about 115 lbs as their growth curves level off.
Oh No! Don’t tell me you stop growing at 16. I’m still looking at the growth charts to see how tall I’m going to be … and I’m quite old now.
If you are above the ‘normal weight range’ or the average weight should you try to lose weight?
Diets do not work long-term but adopting a healthy eating plan and physical activity routine is sensible whatever your size.
Weight is not all there is to it you need to be aware of your body composition as well. This includes your body fat percentage.
In addition, excessive abdominal fat is also a good indicator that you need to lose fat. Waist circumference measurements will give a good idea of your belly fat and here are some tips on how to lose it fast.
Why look at the ‘Average weight chart for women’ rather then the body mass index (bmi)?
The average weight chart shows you how you compare to others of the same age, gender and height. Whereas the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator is a formula of your weight in kilograms (or weight in pounds) divided by your height in metres squared. Although the Halls BMI calculator does take into account other factors such as your age and gender and allows you to compare to others of the same statistics.
I think that 100% of people who use statistics in general conversation are annoying
Other Halls.md calculators:-
Ideal weight calculator
Body fat calculator and formula
Average Weight Chart: Mens
Body Mass Index Calculator (BMI)
Average Height and weight Chart: Men
Average Height and Weight Chart: Women
Weight Loss Percentage Calculator
Other Posts about Body Mass Index and Weight and Height Charts
- Index of ALL our Height and Weight Articles
- Full Index of ALL our articles and Calculators on Body Mass Index
Recent Weight Loss Posts
- Index of ALL our Posts on Weight Loss
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- Index of Diet for Disease Posts
- Full index of ALL our posts on Weight Loss Diets
- Motivation for Weight Loss
- Easy Ways to Fast Weight Loss – 6 Top Tips
- 6 Reasons why weight loss is not working
- 5 Small changes to lose BIG weight
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A recent study showed that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men that mention it.
This Is How Much You Should Weigh Based on Your Height and Age
Your weight depends on many different factors — everything from what you eat to how much you move to your environment and genetics. It’s important to set goals when you want your current weight to change — but you first need to know your target weight.
It’s easy to figure out how much you should weigh from a health perspective. From there, you can determine how much you might need to lose (or gain) to reach a healthier weight.
Why does your weight matter?
The number on the scale could help determine if you need any healthy lifestyle changes. | Nensuria/iStock/Getty Images
You might look and feel fine regardless of what you weigh. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy, though. It’s important to look at health in the long term to determine whether or not you’re at risk for disease later in life based on your condition now. The Nutrition Source says your weight can put you at risk for a long list of conditions. If you don’t start taking care of yourself now — no matter how young or old you are — there will be consequences.
Your ideal weight
Your doctor can help guide you toward a healthy weight. | AlexRaths/iStock/Getty Images
Your ideal body weight is just a general marker of how close you are to what is considered a healthy weight. The math for this one is simple. Here’s how to calculate your own body weight, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Females: Start with 100 pounds for the first five feet of your height. Add five additional pounds for every inch over five feet to reach your ideal weight.
A 5’5” female should ideally weigh 125 pounds. Her acceptable weight range is 115 – 135.
Males: Start with 106 pounds for the first five feet of your height. Add six additional pounds for every inch over five feet to reach your ideal weight.
A 5’5” male should ideally weigh 136 pounds. His acceptable weight range is 126 – 146.
Your weight as you age
Staying active and eating healthy into your golden years will prevent weight gain. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images
Age usually doesn’t matter when determining your ideal healthy weight. Livestrong.com suggests using body fat percentage to make sure you’re on the right track — or you’re on your way to getting there. Nerd Fitness provides a helpful chart to help you determine what your ideal body fat percentage is based on your gender and activity level. Measuring tape and a few calculations can help you figure out how much body fat you’re actually carrying around.
Your weight and disease risk
BMI can have a serious impact on your heart health. | Tharakorn/iStock/Getty Images
The more you weigh, the more at risk you are for a number of potentially fatal conditions and diseases. According to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, carrying around excess body fat — especially around your waist — puts you at greater risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases your blood pressure, affects your breathing, and also increases your risk for developing certain cancers. Losing weight significantly decreases your risk for these conditions.
How to get to (and maintain) a healthy weight
Healthy habits (not diets) will lead to your ideal BMI. | Elena_hramowa/iStock/Getty Images
Once you know how much you should weigh, you can decide what you need to start doing to make positive lifestyle changes. Both diet and exercise are equally important when it comes to weight loss. Everyone is different, so you can only count on the habits and strategies that are most effective for you personally. These are the healthiest ways to lose weight fast.
What about BMI?
BMI can be a hard topic to bring up — but it can help you understand your health. | GeorgeRudy/iStock/Getty Images
Your body mass index measures whether or not you have a healthy body fat percentage at your present height and weight. BMI is the same for both males and females at any age. The math:
Your weight in pounds x 0.45 = your weight in kilograms
Your height in inches x 0.025 = height in meters
Square that, then divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters.
Example BMI calculation — and what it means
If you have questions about your BMI, ask your doctor. | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Let’s say you are 5’5” and weigh 150 pounds.
(150 x 0.45) / (65 x 0.025) = (67.5) / (1.625 x 1.625) = (67.5 / 2.64) = BMI = 25
Of course, you can also use Mayo Clinic’s BMI calculator, which takes your age and gender into account to assess your health status.
A healthy BMI ranges from 19 to 25. Technically, a BMI above (25.6) is at the very low end of the overweight category. At a BMI over 30, a person is considered obese.
Unfortunately, the reason many professionals are moving away from using BMI is that it doesn’t take muscle mass or age into consideration. Older adults, for example, might not be considered healthy at what is considered to be a normal BMI.
Is Being Overweight Unhealthy?
The idea that being overweight isn’t unhealthy got a turbo-charge in 2013. That’s when a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that people who were up to 30 pounds overweight were less likely to die early than people at a normal weight.
A close investigation revealed major flaws in the study’s methods, though. Turns out, our happy weight isn’t so healthy after all.
What’s more, decades of research show that obesity leads to many serious health problems. These extra pounds make you more likely to get a wide range of diseases, from diabetes and high blood pressure to dementia and some kinds of cancer. Going up just a single skirt size over any decade between your mid 20s and mid 50s, for example, makes you a third more likely to have breast cancer after menopause.
The health problems tied to obesity, especially chronic diseases like diabetes, can have a long-term impact.
“These are diseases you have to manage not just for a few months, but for a lifetime,” says dietitian Rachel Brandeis. “They impact your health, your wallet, and your day-to-day activities. You spend more time at the doctor’s office and more money on medication. You’re always trying to manage your disease and feel better.” What’s at stake, she says, is your quality of life.
Still, many of us have a hard time facing our weight. Brandeis says most people are “shocked” when they step on the scales.
What’s a Healthy Body Weight for Your Age?
Exercise may also be more difficult for you as an older adult, or maybe you’re just not getting as much activity into your day as you should. Health problems, arthritis, and soreness may seem like good excuses to skip exercise, but you’re doing yourself more harm than good by being sedentary. Research suggests that regular physical activity can help boost memory, improve balance, and prevent depression among people over 65.
What’s Your Healthy Weight?
Maintaining a healthy body weight can keep you in shape through your senior years and ward off a host of health problems, including:
- Diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels
- Some cancers
- Loss of mental acuity
Ask your doctor about what your healthy body weight should be. One indicator of being overweight is your body mass index, or BMI.
Keep in mind that BMI isn’t always the best indicator for everyone, which is another reason to talk to your doctor about the goal weight you should shoot for.
Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
How do you achieve a healthy body weight, especially if your aging body is working against you? It’s a tough job, but you can absolutely maintain a healthy body weight as a senior.
First, figure out how many calories you need to eat in a day to get to and maintain your ideal weight. Women over age 50 who are inactive and get little to no exercise need about 1,600 calories each day. That number jumps to 2,000 to 2,200 for very active women, and it’s in the middle, at about 1,800 calories, for those whose activity levels are average.
Men over age 50 need about 2,000 calories each day if they’re not very active, and between 2,200 and 2,400 if they’re moderately active. Men who get a lot of physical activity each day need between 2,400 and 2,800 calories.
Start with these basic numbers in mind, then meet your needs with healthy foods — not just any old calories. To stay full and satisfied while losing weight, try these changes to your diet:
- Add foods rich in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Limit salt and fat.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Choose lean meats like chicken, fish, or turkey without skin, instead of hamburger or steaks marbled with fat.
- Eat and drink lots of low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Remember to add exercise into your weight management equation. Make a commitment to yourself to get active. It’s okay to start out slowly, then gradually increase your activity level until you’re working out and burning calories on most days of the week. The more exercise you get, the better you’ll feel — and the easier it will be to maintain your weight.
Ideal Body Weight for Men
Based on body mass index, optimised for men
Use the tabs to view the chart in stones pounds or kilograms
Ideal Weight Chart for Men (Imperial)
Weight in Stones and Pounds / Height in Feet and Inches
Ideal Weight Chart for Men (Imperial)
Weight in Pounds / Height in Feet and Inches
Ideal Weight Chart for Men (Metric)
Weight in Kilograms / Height in Centimetres
Body Mass Index
Body mass index, BMI, is a number generated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.
Body mass index (BMI) = weight(kg) ÷ height(m)2
Don’t worry, you don’t have to work it out for yourself, just put your height an weight into our BMI calculator.
Our ideal weight range charts are based on body mass index, modified to take into account whether you are male or female.
Body mass index is used to determine whether an individual, male or female, falls into a broad band considered to be healthy weight, or is outside the parameters and, if so, to what extent. BMI is used by scientists and researchers to determine the health implications of being a certain BMI.
Want to record your weight? Get a free professionally designed Weight Graph PDF with our fortnightly newsletter. Simply enter your first name and email (never shared).
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See the BMI range personal to you, set a Weight Loss goal, and see how many calories you need each day to get there – try the Weight Loss Resources Tools for free.
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What weight should a 55-year-old man be?
It depends on a lot of variables. Body fat percentage, age, height, and gender are a few of the biggest ones. For adults, age does not affect a person’s BMI. That is, a 50-year-old’s BMI is neither measured nor interpreted any differently than a 30-year-old. Body fat percentage, however, does change with age.
But when most people use the phrase “lose weight,” they really mean “lose fat.” This means that body fat percentage, by definition, is the best way to determine how “fat” someone is. Body fat percentage is more ideal than BMI because a BMI chart does not account for body fat. According to a BMI chart, almost all NFL linebackers would be morbidly obese, even though they are among the most fit people most Americans know of based on their body fat percentages.
According to livestrong.com, the average man gains around 1–3% body fat per decade after age 20, and by age 50, a healthy man would find himself at the higher end of the healthy/normal range of 18–22% body fat. According to Hamwi’s formula, at a normal body fat percentage, 55 years old, and 5 feet 10 inches tall, a man would weigh roughly 165 pounds.
It should be noted, however, that these are assumed height and body fat percentage values, as we Quorans don’t know who is asking. Homeostasis is a very complicated subject that even our best doctors have trouble understanding.
Generally, as long as you aren’t over 20–25% body fat, you’re OK. But I would ask a doctor if you really want to be sure.
What is the average weight for women?
An “ideal weight” is where a person is at their healthiest and fittest in terms of what they weigh. There is a variety of different ways to calculate ideal weight ranges:
BMI is the most commonly used system for calculating ideal weight range, as it is relatively easy to work out. An individual can work out their BMI by applying their height and weight to the following formula:
- divide weight in kilograms by height in meters
- divide the answer by height again
For those people more familiar with using imperial measurements, there are various online calculators for working out BMI scores.
BMI calculations are the same for men and women, and BMI is seen as correlating fairly well with a person’s percentage of body fat.
Despite this, BMI can give a false picture, as muscle weighs more than fat. Research in the journal Sports Health, showed athletes rating as “overweight” or “obese,” despite being in peak condition.
One study also criticizes BMI for underestimating the prevalence of obesity in both sexes and being increasingly inaccurate as women age.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, BMI ranges are as follows:
|Underweight||Less than 18.5|
|Obesity||30 or greater|
Waist circumference and hip-to-waist ratio
Fat is spread around a person’s body but not all types of fat are equal.
The fat that can build up around someone’s midsection and turn into a beer belly or love handles can indicate a higher risk for related diseases that have potential to do harm to your body.
The World Health Organization (WHO) note that fat around the midsection is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and premature death.
Furthermore, it says calculating a person’s waist-to-hip ratio is a better indicator of their fat distribution and disease implications than BMI is.
A person can work out their waist-to-hip ratio by dividing their waist measurement by their hip measurement.
Women should keep their waist circumference at 80 centimeters (cm) or 31.5 inches or less, according to the WHO. Anything more is associated with increased risk of related health problems, as follows:
|Indicator||Cut-off points||Risk of health problems|
|Waist circumference||More than 80 cm (31.5 inches)||Increased risk|
|Waist circumference||More than 88 cm (34.6 inches)||Substantially increased risk|
|Waist-to-hip ratio||Equal or more than 0.85||Substantially increased risk|
Body fat percentage
Body fat percentage is another way of calculating a person’s ideal weight. Unlike BMI, it differentiates between how much of a person’s weight is lean tissue and how much is fat.
In theory, body fat percentage is a good way of measuring ideal weight. However, in practice there are drawbacks:
- The most accurate ways of measuring body fat percentage, such as DXA scans (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), can be expensive and time-consuming.
- No set scientific agreement establishes what the ideal body fat percentages are or where the cut-off points should be.
Nonetheless, the American Council on Exercise propose the following body fat guidelines for women:
|Obesity||More than 32|
Body Mass Index Children US
This module calculates Body Mass Index for children from age 2 to age 18 and classifies the result according to the guidelines given by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. It also has an optional evaluation of height in relation to age.
1. Enter values for gender, height and weight.
2. The result is interpreted within four categories: Underweight (<5th percentile), Healthy weight (5th-85th percentile), Overweight (85th-95th percentile) and Obese (>95th percentile).
3. Please note, that BMI is only a very rough predictor for overweight in individuals.
BMI Percentile 17.8 OK 40 Height lbs 80 Weight ft’ in” 4’11” Age Yrs 12 Background
For adults, the body mass index limits for overweight and obesity are straight forward (overweight = BMI > 25 and obesity = BMI > 30). For children this is much more complicated as the limits vary a lot depending on age. This calculator uses the US guidelines that are based on fixed percentiles from a large reference population.
A BMI of 20 indicates obesity in a 6 year old girl, whereas it would represent healthy weight for a 13 year old girl. However, as growth of children varies, the final evaluation should always be based on a several factors including physical growth, muscularity and subcutaneous fat deposits.
The calculator also includes the possibility to evaluate height in relation to age. If the child/youth scores in the high percentile range on height (above average) this could indicate that physical development is ahead of chronological age. As higher BMI is expected with increasing age (above age 6), this information can assist in a qualified evaluation of BMI.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). BMI – Body Mass Index: BMI for Children and Teens.
Mei Z, Grummer-Strawn LM, Pietrobelli A, Goulding A, Goran MI, Dietz WH. Validity of body mass index compared with other body-composition screening indexes for the assessment of body fatness in children and adolescents. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002;7597–985.
Hammer LD, Kraemer HC, Wilson DM, Ritter PL, Dornbusch SM. Standardized percentile curves of body-mass index for children and adolescents. American Journal of Disease of Child. 1991; 145:259–263.
Pietrobelli A, Faith MS, Allison DB, Gallagher D, Chiumello G, Heymsfield, SB. Body mass index as a measure of adiposity among children and adolescents: A validation study. Journal of Pediatrics. 1998; 132:204–210.
Higher BMI May Be Better for Older Adults
This article is a collaboration between MedPage Today and:
Adults over 65 at the high end of the healthy body mass index (BMI) range were at lower risk of mortality, and those at the low end were at highest risk, according to a recent meta-analysis.
- The relation between body mass index (BMI) and mortality appears to be U-shaped in adults ages 65 and older, researchers found.
- The risk of mortality increased in older people with a BMI less than 23.0.
The analysis included 32 studies identified through Medline, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library, and hand searches between 1990 and September of 2013. All of the studies included population-based cohorts, and they followed participants for an average of 12 years. The final analyses included 197,940 community-living adults age 65 or older. There were 72,469 deaths, in total, recorded in the studies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a healthy body weight range for adults as a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. But “this range has been based primarily on studies in younger adults, for whom the risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and mortality associated with increased body weight are well documented,” the authors wrote. It may be “overly restrictive” for older adults, they said.
Given the current findings, “it behooves us to reconsider current weight-for-height guidelines,” wrote John D. Sorkin, MD, PhD, of the Baltimore VA Medical Center, in an editorial that accompanied the article.
Sorkin wrote that the findings of the current study are consistent with conclusions drawn by Reubin Andres, MD, clinical director of the National Institute on Aging from 1977 to 1998, after reviewing “the handful of articles that examined weight-for-height,” and converting data on weight and height from the U.S. and Canadian life insurance companies to BMIs.
Andres’ conclusions were controversial then, because “they questioned the beautiful hypotheses that increasing weight is associated with increasing mortality and weight should remain unchanged through adult life,” Sorkin wrote.
Subsequent studies suggested that older adults with a BMI in the overweight range (25 to 29.9) were at similar or lower risk of all-cause mortality than those in the normal-weight range, the authors said. Many of those studies, however, were concerned with the risk associated with a high BMI, and not with those at the lower end of the scale.
Given the current findings, “we must be open to the possibility that the hypothesis that best weight-for-height in older adults is the same as that seen in younger adults may be wrong,” said Sorkin.
One explanation is that older adults are susceptible to undernutrition due to physiologic changes, chronic disease, polypharmacy, and psychosocial changes, the authors said. It often goes unrecognized, they noted.
“Therefore it is important to understand the association between BMI and mortality in the older population,” they wrote. Monitoring weight status in individuals with a BMI of less than 23, they said, “would seem appropriate to detect weight loss promptly and address modifiable causes.”
There were limitations in this analysis. It assessed only mortality risk associated with BMI, rather than weight change or body composition. “Weight change may be more important for older adults in terms of health risks,” the authors said.
Few of the studies included in it included standardized assessments of physical activity, and physical activity at different BMI levels may have influenced results. Furthermore, the relationship between morbidity and BMI was beyond the scope of this study.
The study also focused only on older individuals living in the community. “The relationship between BMI and mortality may be different for those in institutionalized or residential care who are sicker and frailer,” the authors said.
“We were interested in understanding the mortality risks associated with BMI among the ‘independent’ living older population, because these are the likely recipients of dietary advice based on weight status,” they said.
Neither the authors of the article nor the author of the editorial disclosed any relevant relationships with industry.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Source Reference: Winter, J et al “BMI and all-cause mortality in older adults: a meta-analysis” AM J Clin Nutr 2014; 99: 875-90.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Source Reference: Sorkin, J “BMI, age and mortality: the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact” Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 99: 759-60.
Is carrying a few extra pounds into your senior years healthy? Advice has been mixed. Now, two studies published this month attempt to better define the ideal weight for fitness and longevity for adults over age 60.
The gist is that you don’t need to worry about being slightly overweight, as long as that extra weight is maintained at a consistent level. However, being very overweight is detrimental to health, and exercising to lose body fat and to gain muscle mass is always beneficial.
Determining the ideal weight for older people has been somewhat of a Goldilocks pursuit, with researchers looking for what weight is not too thin, but not too fat. Studies have suggested that being slightly overweight can be protective. In theory, having a few extra pounds could be good if you, say, develop cancer and need to undergo chemotherapy, which can lead to rapid weight loss.
For example, a 2001 study by researchers at Yale University found that moderately overweight senior adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 — two points higher than the BMI of 25 that defines being overweight — lived longer than seniors who were either thinner or heavier.
There’s a fine line here, though, because carrying extra pounds is a risk factor for many types of cancer and other diseases. And, according to the researchers behind the two new studies, the general public has misinterpreted the Yale findings to mean that being very overweight is healthy.
One new study, published this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at The Ohio State University in Columbus, found that seniors who maintained a stable, slightly overweight status were most likely to survive over the 16 years surveyed. Those seniors who had a so-called healthy weight going into the study (a BMI between 18.5 and 25) and who gained weight, but stayed below BMI 25, were slightly less likely to survive over the study period.
People in the obese group, with a BMI higher than 35 and who continued to gain weight, faired the worst among all the groups in the study. But next-to-last were normal-weight people who lost weight, but this was likely because they became sick, the researchers said.
The second study, appearing this month in the journal Obesity, was conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., and supports intentional weight loss among senior adults. Whether weight loss is beneficial has been debated because of this notion that being overweight is protective.
In short, the researchers found that physical activity and weight loss for overweight and obese adults resulted in lower cardiovascular disease risk and improved mobility. This finding supports previous studies demonstrating that exercise builds muscle and bone strength, improves balance and coordination, prevents falls and enables seniors to enjoy a more vibrant lifestyle, they said.
“These results should help temper some of the safety concerns regarding the recommendation of intentional weight loss for older adults,” said Kristen Beavers, the study’s lead author and an instructor of geriatrics and gerontology at Wake Forest Baptist.
Both groups of researchers emphasized that exercise for most people positively affects health, and that no one who is at a healthy weight or slightly overweight should intentionally gain extra weight in the hopes of warding off disease or extending their longevity.
Hui Zheng of Ohio State, the lead author of first study, said that the negative effects of obesity on health are greatest for young people.
“Young people especially shouldn’t think that being overweight is harmless,” Zheng said. “Continuing to put on weight can lower your life expectancy.”
Christopher Wanjek is the author of a new novel, “Hey, Einstein!”, a comical nature-versus-nurture tale about raising clones of Albert Einstein in less-than-ideal settings. His column, Bad Medicine, appears regularly on LiveScience.