How much should I weigh?
Kenneth Gardner - FITNESS CLUB
Many of us are preoccupied with our weight and some of us exercise extensively hoping to modify and regulate it. Unfortunately, our weight measurement does not differentiate lean body weight and fat weight and so can be misleading.
It is an excellent idea to know our weight and manage it effectively because of the health implications. However, we can get a better understanding of what our weight is telling us if we focus on the composition of the weight.
Some of us are overweight yet we have a normal fat ratio based on established weight standards. Others may be quite thin or lean and underweight, but they have excess body fat. Our weight measurement only gives a part of the story; an assessment of our body weight and its composition will give a better picture of our overall status.
Measuring your weight
A variety of methods and instruments are used to measure weight and body composition. These include height/weight charts, body mass index, skinfold readings and underwater weight measurements. Height/weight charts are the most common instruments used to measure weight. These were developed by life insurance companies to establish ideal and desirable weights. Ideal and desirable weights have been linked to the lowest mortality rates or to people who display an affinity for living longer than average.
The tables classify people according to the size of their body frame - small, medium and large. The body frame is then presented, along with the height and the sex of the individual and its ideal weight. One method used to determine frame size is the measurement of the breadth of our elbow when it is flexed at a right angle.
About half of us fall within the medium-frame category, while the other half of people fall in the small and large-frame categories. When measuring our height, we should not include the height of our shoes, and when taking our weight measurement little or no clothing should be worn.
Measurements in weight tables are guidelines and not all of us will achieve them. Those who achieve their ideal weight will maintain it by sticking to lifestyle changes.
Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our weight measurement only gives a part of the story; an assessment of our body weight and its composition will give a better picture of our overall status.