What is ideal body weight, and how much should a person weigh according to body type? This question appears to be so simple, yet the answer can be complex. In asking what is ideal, it is a given response that our society has set unrealistic ideals for body size and body weight. Due to the media and other outside influences, people of all walks of life have developed ongoing concerns about their body weight, when in reality perceived body image has little to do with actual body weight or size. Standards for describing “ideal” are inconsistent and have very little in common with health principles.
The two most researched methods for determining ideal body weight in accordance to body type are the principles of Body Composition and the Body Mass Index (BMI).
Factual measures of body composition are not accurate in the human body. Therefore, researchers assess body composition indirectly based on the following principle: Body weight = fat + lean tissue (including water).
For many people, overweight means fat, but this is not always the case. Inactive people may appear to have an acceptable weight, when in fact, they may have too much body fat and very little muscle. An athlete with well-developed muscles and dense bone structure may appear to be overweight by some standards, but has very little body fat.
Body Mass Index
One of the most important factors in determining how much a person should weigh and how much body fat is acceptable is not based on appearance, but on the principles of good health and longevity. This could be further described as having enough fat to meet basic body needs, and not so much as to incur health risks. Current standards for body weight are based on the weight of a person in relation to height. This is known as the body mass index (BMI).
Using the BMI Index, healthy weight ranges between 18.5% and 24.9%. Underweight falls below 18.5%, overweight is above 25%, and obesity is over 30%. Over fifty percent of adults in the United States have a BMI greater than 25% and are classified as overweight. Given the fact, BMI reflects height and weight measurements and not body composition; a very muscular person may be classified as overweight by the BMI standards, but may not be the least bit fat.
In summary, body weight and fat composition are directly linked to disease risks and life expectancy. The acceptable amount of body fat varies from person to person. Studies show that body fat in excess of 22% for men and 32% for women poses health risks. Since ideal body weight according to body type carries a hidden variable among individuals, it is important for everyone to consider overall body composition, as well as BMI index levels, when trying to achieve the ideal weight.