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What Is A Healthy BMI For Women?

Written by:

Obi Obadike

Obi Obadike

Celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Expert, CFT, SFN, M.S. Founder & CEO – Ethical Inc.
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What is a healthy BMI for women? A healthy BMI for women is between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI is a tool that is used to track obesity at the population level. And BMI stands for Body Mass Index and doctors use this to track people’s health.

BMI doesn’t differentiate between men and women, and it is using your height and weight to calculate how healthy you are body composition wise. But some of its limitations are that it doesn’t calculate bodyfat percentage and it doesn’t calculate muscle mass.

So, if you have a lot of muscle for your height the BMI could potentially classify you as overweight or obese. So, it’s not a good tool for people to use that are extremely physically fit.

What is a healthy BMI range for women? photo credit: iStock-cherstva

Here is the BMI chart:

Less than 16.5- severe underweight

Less than 18.5- underweight

18.5-24.9- normal weight

25.0-29.9- overweight

30.0-34.9- obesity class I

35.0-39.9- obesity class II

40 or greater- obesity class III

There are research studies that show that Mexican American women vs black women vs white women have different bodyfat proportions. Studies reveal that African American women have a higher amount of muscle mass than white and Mexican American women.

One research review revealed that Mexican American women carry more fat in their stomach area. And it revealed they have 3 to 5% more body fat. And they have a larger waist circumference than white or black women with similar BMI’s.

Of course, these are all studies and not 100% that this is true for Mexican American women, but it gives great insight on what the data says. The differences are based on data averaged over many people.

It is important to state that a person’s ethnicity doesn’t determine their weight, body fat composition, muscle mass, waist circumference, etc. But your DNA determines all of that though. Some of us are blessed with the genetic lottery and unfortunately some of us are not. Our DNA will dictate how hard we must work on exercising and eating right to maintain a healthy weight.

Some women can get away with eating anything and maintaining a healthy weight. And some women cannot get away with eating anything and still staying trim.

Some research studies have shown that Asian and south Asian populations have more bodyfat than people that come from white populations. Again, this is just data from various research studies.

Women that are in the postmenopausal phase can have the same BMI as a younger woman but have less muscle mass than them. And the reasons are when your estrogen levels drop during this phase you experience loss of muscle mass, more bodyfat gain, possible osteoporosis and hormonal fluctuations.

BMI measures your overall health because it is used as a screening tool for possible health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes.

According to the Institutes of Medicine. Here are some weight gain recommendations for pregnant women.

Prepregnancy BMI-

Underweight-under 18.5–  Total recommended weight-gain-28 to 40lbs- Mean rate of weight gain in the second and third trimester- 1 pound per week.

Normal Weight- 18.5-24.9– Total recommended weight-gain- 25-35lbs- Mean rate of weight gain in the second and third trimester- 1 pound per week.

Overweight-25.0- 29.9– Total recommended weight-gain- 15-25lbs- Mean rate of weight gain in the second and third trimester- 1 pound per week.

Obesity-30 or greater– Total recommended weight-gain- 11-20lbs- Mean rate of weight gain in the second and third trimester- 1 pound per week.

Some of the other ways to measure your health is through body fat testing. And some of the body fat testing devices you can use are the skinfold calipers, dexa, waist circumference.

The Bottom Line is the BMI is a screening tool that healthcare professionals use to measure the health of the general population. It is a flawed screening tool because it doesn’t measure your body fat or measure how much muscle you have.

And if you have a lot of muscle the BMI will identify you as being overweight. So, it isn’t accurate in evaluating extremely fit people.

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References

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