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What is a Healthy Body Mass Index for Women?

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  • Written By: N. Swensson
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Body mass index, or BMI, is a measurement that can show whether a person's weight is considered healthy. It is calculated using weight and height. In general, a healthy body mass index for women is between 18.5 and 24.9. While BMI is a good overall assessment of whether a woman's weight is healthy, it can be somewhat misleading. For example, athletes with a lot of muscle mass can have a high BMI because muscle is more dense than fat. Therefore, while BMI can be a good general indicator of a healthy body weight, new research suggests that other factors should be considered when evaluating a person's overall wellness.

The body mass index for women is calculated based on weight and height. There are a number of BMI calculators on the web and through other sources that will generate a number with a few simple inputs such as height, weight, and gender. BMI, however, is not gender-specific. It is important to understand that a woman may have the same BMI as a man, but can have more body fat, since women tend to have more body fat than men in general. However, a healthy body mass index for women is the same as for men.

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In children and teens, gender does influence a BMI calculation. The BMI number is assigned a percentile after comparison with others in the same age range and gender. This method is used for children because body fat percentages can change significantly as they grow. Also, body fat percentages differ in adolescent girls and boys.

While calculating a body mass index for women can be one good measurement of overall health, it should be considered along with other factors. A woman whose BMI is slightly high may still be in excellent general health, while a woman with a very low BMI may be at a dangerously low weight. Since some women tend to set unrealistically low weight goals, it is important not to obsess about a BMI number.

Research shows that other body measurements can be strong indicators of overall health, especially when used together with BMI. One example is waist size. Recent studies suggest that people with a larger waist circumference may be at increased risk for diseases related to obesity. For this reason, people who want to maintain a healthy weight may need to consider overall distribution of body fat in addition to just the amount.

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