Anyone who's ever seen a fashion magazine or Victoria's Secret commercial has seen some unrealistic expectations for female weight. However, these unrealistic standards don't exist only in the world of fashion. The medical community has also had weight height standards for women that have been shown to be unrealistic and lacking in important information.
For instance, old weight height standards didn't take into account body composition or exactly how a person's weight was distributed. Muscle also weighs more than fat, which can create a false "overweight" rating. The formulas used were also often only tested on Caucasian (white) women, which is a problem because women of different races often have differences in frame and body composition.
Over the years, doctors and physical therapists have had to come up with several new weight height standards for women in an attempt to determine what weights and body fat ratios are ideal. New American Heart Association weight standards for women are continually being developed to reflect a more accurate and thorough understanding of how the female body works. They may not be perfect, but the new weight height standards have helped to create more realistic weight charts for women.
Ranges for Women Based Upon Height and Age
As time has gone on, the medical community has created more realistic weight charts to show the new weight height standards for women. These scales are still somewhat flawed, but take things into account that previous charts for women's weight missed. There are also tests to determine how much of a body is fat as opposed to muscle. Here are some of the new weight-height standards in use today:
Body Mass Index (BMI): These charts measure a person's weight-height ratio with allowance for different builds. The frames considered are usually small, medium and large, although some charts will also allow for extra-large. Generally, you can find out what category you fall in by wrist measurements. While better than previous charts, the BMI doesn't consider age or body composition. People who are very muscular, for instance, may appear to be obese by BMI standards simply because muscle weighs more than fat.
Caliper Test: Otherwise known as a pinch test, a trainer or other expert pinches skin at various parts of the body and measures using a device known as a caliper. The tester will use the results of the measure in a formula to figure out body fat percentage. The idea is that the amount or thickness of fat found under the skin with each pinch is representative of total body fat. This might be a painless test, but it isn't completely accurate. A lot depends on the person doing the testing finding the right places to pinch.
Waist-to-Hip Ratio: Some fairly recent studies from The American Heart Association have shown that a person's hip-to-waist ratio can affect the risk for heart disease. People who carry more of their weight around the midsection have a higher risk of getting diabetes or heart disease than those who carry more of their weight around the hips and butt. To determine this ratio, doctors will take a person's waist measurement and divide it by the hip measurement. For women, a waist-to-hip ratio of more than 0.8 is considered to be in a higher-risk category than a lower ratio.
The fact is, there hasn't been any real consensus on exactly what constitutes a healthy weight height ratio. However, these new weight height standards can give women and their doctors a better idea of what a healthy weight is. Each woman is an individual, so any chart regarding women's weight should be taken as a guideline only. Most doctors recognize this, but it's always a good thing for women to know as much as they can about their own health.