Every time you go to a clinic or a gym; the first thing they do is measure your height and tell you what your ideal weight should be. Now the problem lies in the fact that in India there’s no such thing as an ideal height-weight chart for Indians and a Google search for the same turns up an National Health Services, UK chart. Now according to that chart, a person of my height (5’10’’) would be judged on one of the categories mentioned below:
So according to this chart even a healthy man who works out a lot or has a high bone density and weights above 75kg would be considered overweight.
What you need to realise is that these charts aren’t even designed for Indians (the NHS is based in the UK) and they’re in no way accurate. That’s why there exist other health indicators to see if a person’s healthy or not.
The two most popular ones are body mass index and body fat percentage.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
The BMI is a tried and tested technique to record obesity. It’s calculated by dividing your weight in kg by square of your height in metres. So a person who’s 176 cm and weighs 85 kg will have a BMI of 27 roughly which is considered overweight by WHO standards.
BMI range – kg/m2
Very severely underweight
less than 15
less than 0.60
from 15.0 to 16.0
from 0.60 to 0.64
from 16.0 to 18.5
from 0.64 to 0.74
Normal (healthy weight)
from 18.5 to 25
from 0.74 to 1.0
from 25 to 30
from 1.0 to 1.2
Obese Class I (Moderately obese)
from 30 to 35
from 1.2 to 1.4
Obese Class II (Severely obese)
from 35 to 40
from 1.4 to 1.6
Obese Class III (Very severely obese)
The BMI has been used by the WHO to calculate obesity statistics and is the go-to inexpensive tool to decide whether someone’s underweight, healthy, overweight or obese. However, the system is still flawed because the BMI doesn’t take into account frame size, muscularity or the proportions of fat you have in the body, etc. Thus the BMI isn’t considered an accurate health indicator for measuring athletes, older people (bone density goes down), children (bone density still increasing), etc. It’s especially wrong for athletes since it considers an athlete who’s fit and has higher muscle weight to be fat!
Body Fat Percentage
The other method is to calculate body fat percentage which is a more accurate method to see how healthy a person is. High body fat percentage indicates obesity (which makes you prone to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a host of other ailments) while a low body fat percentage isn’t good either because the body needs vital fats to function. There are various different methods to calculate it including – bioelectrical impedance analysis, calliper or a DEXA scan but the latter two can be more expensive and won’t be available in every gym.
What is the ideal body fat percentage?
Men and women both require a different body fat percentage. Also, the ideal body fat percentage changes with age.
So now what you know the different indicators of good health, don’t let the height-weight chart fool you!
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