Women experience many things as they age. Menopause, changes in metabolism, and physical bodily changes can all affect a women’s weight. Despite all of these factors, attaining and sustaining an ideal body weight is important for women of all ages. Knowing what this weight is, and taking steps to reach it and maintain it, can help women live healthier lives.
According to the CDC, having normal body weight means having a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. (See References 1) This measurement is used for both male and female adults over the age of 19. Your BMI is a number found with a fairly simple formula based on your weight and height. The closer your BMI is to 22, the closer you are to the “ideal” weight, as a BMI of 22 is associated with the least weight-related risks.
You can find your BMI by dividing your weight (in pounds) by your height (in inches) squared, and multiplying this number by 703. Many BMI calculators are available on the Internet, though. (Check the Resources for one.) A BMI under 18.5 signifies that a person is underweight. BMI’s of 25-29.9 classify a person as overweight, and people with BMI’s of 30 and over are considered obese. (See References 1)
Being outside of the normal body weight range according to your BMI comes with many health risks. Women with BMI’s below 18.5 are at a heightened risk for anemia, a weak immune system, osteoporosis, and infertility. Women with BMI’s over 24.9 are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Even more conditions are added to the list of concerns when a person’s BMI reaches or surpasses 30.
In 2005-2006, 35.3 percent of U.S. women were obese, not just overweight, according to the CDC. (See References 2) A fact sheet had been published i 2005 warning of an increased risk of death in underweight and obese people. (References 3) As difficult as it may be to maintain a healthy body weight as a woman ages, the health factors associated with not having an ideal body weight are too significant to ignore.
When explaining why they use BMI for weight assessment, the CDC says that “for most people, BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness.” (See References 1) However, it is possible to have a body type which does not fit neatly into the measurements of the BMI. A person with a larger or smaller frame may be classified as overweight or underweight, but still be perfectly healthy. If you are concerned about your weight or BMI, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.