How to Use a Height & Weight Chart

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You should consider both height and weight when evaluating your body's size.
You should consider both height and weight when evaluating your body's size. (Image: weight image by julien tromeur from Fotolia.com)

With 34 percent of Americans qualifying as obese--and another 34 percent qualifying as overweight--many people want to know if they are a healthy size. While weight is one factor in determining this, another element that should not be overlooked is your height. There are different height and weight comparison charts for adults and children, but both take the two measurements into consideration.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Scale

How To Use A Height And Weight Chart For Adults

Search the web for a BMI (body mass index) chart by typing "BMI Chart" into your search engine. BMI uses height and weight to calculate a number; this number can tell you whether you're underweight, at the ideal weight for your height, overweight, or obese.

Use a tape measure to measure your height in inches. Many tables, including the one from the National Heart Lung And Blood Institute, round off height to the nearest inch. You may need a friend to help measure you.

Step on a scale to find out your weight in pounds. Again, you can round off your weight to the nearest pound.

Examine the BMI table found in Reference 2. For this tutorial, we'll assume we're looking for the BMI of a 5 foot 8 inch (68 inch) tall woman who weighs 165 pounds.

Locate your height (for example, 68 inches) on the left-most column. Use your finger to draw a line horizontally across the chart until you find your weight (for example, 165 pounds). You may not be able to find your exact weight, so look for the closest match. In this example, that would be 164 pounds.

Trace your finger upward to the top row (printed in bold font). That number--for our example, 25--is your BMI.

Compare your BMI to the chart provided by the website "Fuel The Mind." You'll find that a BMI of 25 falls into the low range of the "overweight" category.

How To Use A Height And Weight Chart For Children, Toddlers And Babies

Search the internet--or ask your child's doctor--for a copy of a pediatric growth chart. We'll be using the ones provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Find the chart that is appropriate for your child. The CDC splits the charts into several categories, including boys -- birth to 36 months, girls -- birth to 36 months, boys -- 2 to 20, and girls -- 2 to 20. For the purpose of this tutorial, we'll assume we're looking for information on a 24-month-old girl who weighs 28 pounds and is 36 inches tall, so we'll select the chart that gives us length-for-age and weight-for-age percentiles.

Measure your child's height (also called length on some growth charts) using a tape measure. For especially young children, it might be easiest to obtain this measurement with the child lying down on a flat surface. Round the measurement to the nearest quarter inch.

Have your child step onto a scale to obtain her weight. Round the measurement to the nearest quarter pound.

Refer to the chart in Reference 5, provided by the CDC. Locate your child's age in months (for example, 24 months) at the top of the page. Now find their height in inches (for example, 36 inches) in the column on the left side of the page. Using your finger, trace a line to where the two measurements meet. See which percentile line this point is closest to; in this case, it is closest to the 95th percentile line (other lines 90th, 75th, 50th, 25th, 10th, and 5th percentiles). This means a 24-month-old girl who is 36 inches tall is taller than 95 percent of other girls her age.

Find your child's weight percentile by locating her age (again 24 months for this example) at the top of the page. Now, find her weight in pounds (for example, 28 pounds) in the column on the left side of the page (weight for children 16 pounds and up can be found on the right side of the page). Use your finger to trace a line to where the two measurements meet, and look to see which percentile line this point is closest to. Using our example numbers, this child falls between the 50th and 75th percentiles, meaning she is heavier than 50 to 75 percent of other girls her age.

Tips & Warnings

  • BMI charts should not be used on children; instead, use growth charts like the ones used in Section 2. This will give you a better idea of how babies, toddlers and children are growing in comparison to other children their age.
  • Avoid using either the adult BMI chart or the children's height and weight chart as a diagnostic tool. Take the information you find from the charts to your or your child's doctor for further evaluation and medical advice.

References

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