For many, body weight is a sensitive topic, but do keep in mind that it is a very good indicator of your overall health, as it is a direct result of your eating habits and lifestyle. The average weight for a woman varies according to her height - for a woman measuring 5 feet, the ideal weight should be around 111 lbs, and for a tall woman measuring 5' 6" it should be approximately 165 lbs. These values are approximate, and should be used as a rough guideline only, as every woman's body is different with a varying amount of fats and muscle mass.
Age also is an important factor to weigh in. Women generally start gaining weight during their mid-20s, mostly due to switching to a more sedentary lifestyle. Another major contributor is pregnancy. Although it is suggested that a woman should gain 25-35 lbs throughout pregnancy, most women gain far too many pounds. Menopause and estrogen pills have also been linked to an increase in weight. Do keep in mind that gaining a small amount of weight after the age of 35 is quite normal, and is recommended by the CDC (United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The BMI (body mass index) for an average woman should be in the range of 18.5 to 25, and the following chart is made by taking these values into consideration. For an easy-to-follow guideline, just read through the table.
|Height||Average Weight Range for Women||Average Weight for Women|
|(in Feet)||in pounds||in kilogram||in pounds||in kilogram|
According to the Center of Disease Control, the average woman in the United States is 5' 3 tall, weighs 166 lbs, and has a BMI of 29.4; just a few pounds under being classified obese. The average listed here takes into account women over the age of 20 from all ethnic backgrounds.
The Average American Woman
The Average American Woman
Average Weight of Women Through the Years
Below is a table of the average weight of women from 1960 to 2002 in the age group of 20-74.
|Weight in lbs||140||144||145||154||164|
Factors that Determine Body WeightYour weight is primarily determined by your food choices and activity levels. But there are other factors too, that might affect how much and where you gain weight. These are -
Genetics - Genes affect your body weight by determining your metabolic rate i.e. how fast you burn those calories. But other factors like a very low-calorie diet and a sedentary lifestyle also have a major impact on this. Your genes also determine where fats are stored, and how easily you gain muscle mass.
Stress - Stress can cause your body to produce Cortisol, the stress hormone, which might increase your appetite. Also, many people find comfort in eating when stressed, and most comfort foods are high in sugar and fats.
Muscles - A lean person with more muscles will weigh more than a bigger person. This is also the reason that you appear to gain weight, when you start exercising. When you exercise, your body gains muscle mass, which though heavier, burns far more calories than the adipose.
Medical Conditions - Some medical conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can cause a woman to gain weight.
Thyroid Gland - An overactive or under-active thyroid gland has been linked to weight gain or weight loss.
Medications - Certain medications like prednisones, antidepressants, or those prescribed for high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. may also cause a woman to gain weight.
Although present, these conditions are pretty rare. The most common reason for the obesity epidemic is a sedentary lifestyle coupled with a higher consumption of foods rich in sugar, fats, and calories.
Is Your Weight Healthy?
As discussed above, the weight of a person depends on many factors, and is not an exact measurement of your health. To determine how healthy you are, other measurements are used in conjunction with your body weight. These are -
BMI - It is one of the most common methods to determine your healthy weight, as it just needs your height and weight. It is a better indicator than just the weight, but has its own drawbacks. Muscular people like athletes, body-builders, etc. for example, will typically show a very high BMI, some even being classified as obese. The reason for this is that muscle weighs more than fat, and a lean, muscular person will weigh more than a person having far more fat.
Body Fat Percentage - Body fat percentage is the weight of your body, excluding the weight of muscles, fluids, connective tissue, bones, etc.; in other words, just the weight of adipose tissue in your body. There are various tests such as the skin fold test, anthropometric methods, and bioelectrical impedance analysis that are used to determine this. On an average, a woman should have 25-31% body fat percentage.
Waist Circumference - This measures the amount of fats stored around your waist. Generally, the higher the number, the greater is the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, etc. Waist circumference is considered as a pretty accurate measure of one's health, and a woman with a waist circumference of 35 inches (88 cm) or more is believed to be more likely to develop the aforementioned conditions.
According to WHO, Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Focusing just on numbers, is rather like concentrating on just one aspect of a problem. So, if you are slightly overweight, but follow a healthy lifestyle and diet, and are generally feeling good, you might still be considered healthy.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and does not attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.