Understanding your body within healthy dimensions is critical, especially when health-related risks continue to prevail globally. Sound knowledge on the triggers and effects of unhealthy weight among women keeps them in check allowing better practices for healthy weight.
Ideally, what is a healthy weight for women? We explore this as we progress further in this article.
What is the perfect healthy weight for women?
While CDC reports the average weight of women at 170.6 pounds, this is not a health measure. Our definition of healthy implies one who is not overweight (obese) or underweight (malnourished). We proceed to explore measures of healthy body weights using various measures:
· Body mass index
Body mass index (BMI) calculates recommend weights using your height in meters and weight by kilograms. Although BMI compares well with body fat percentage, it can give a false implication since weights are often more substantial than fats.
Using BMI, a woman’s healthy weight should range between 18.5 and 24.9. A measure greater than 30 implies obesity, while one less than 18.5 shows underweight.
· Body fat percentage
Body fat percentage calculates your ideal weight by differentiating the amount of lean tissue and fat in total weight. It is a recommended way to measure ideal weight but can be costly and laborious. American Council on exercise suggests these guidelines on body fat for women. Essential fats-14 to 20%,
Fitness- 21 to 24% and acceptable fats -25 to 31%. More than 32 % of fats are unhealthy and denotes obesity
Factors influencing healthy weight
According to the Misra Framework, body weight is dependent on risk factors, including genes, behavior, socioeconomic status, and culture, which we expound briefly.
Scientific studies have proven that while current weight status may have an inherited component, metabolic processes underlying weight gain may be dependent on genetic influences. In some cases, multiple genes may increase the risk of obesity and require intervention factors to limit its occurrence (AMCHP/CityMatch, 2006).
· Socioeconomic status
Obesity is a socioeconomic issue related to limited social and economic resources, which can be allied to disparities in access to healthy foods. Minorities and working poor have financial limitations, which force them to consume foods with high sugar and fat content as opposed to healthy foods. Such convenience eventually translates to weight gain across low-income individuals (AMCHP/CityMatch, 2006).
Culture places a value on appearance and interprets it as essential to attractiveness. This perception demands conformity to the ”dictated standards” and those who do not conform are denied rewards such as success, love, and power. In pursuit of thinness, women may lose themselves and end up underweight as they seek external approval.
While most of us know that exercise is good for general health, a huge population maintains a sedentary lifestyle. Myths that physical activity has to be intense keeps us off exercise hence resulting in unhealthy weights.
How can I maintain a healthy weight as a woman?
Maintaining a healthy weight requires discipline and healthy eating habits, some of which are listed below.
· Embrace physical exercise
Physical activity assists in burning calories and increases metabolism hence ensuring you maintain an ideal weight. Approximately, two and a half hours of daily exercise time could result in life-transforming changes.
· Reduced portion sizes
Eating smaller portions helps you maintain a healthy weight where you consume fewer calories. An easy way to work this out is taking food off a lower plate. Since we are tempted to finish off food on a plate, using a smaller size helps you finish but intake lesser calories.
· Drink lots of water
Hydration is essential for healthy weight and helps suppress hunger pangs. Taking a glass of water when having an urge to snack sends mixed signals, and your body feels full, thus avoiding unnecessary snacking and maintains a healthy weight.
· Periodic fasting
Periodic fasting implies taking all meals within a specific time-frame such as 7/8hrs and going for the rest of the day without food. Restricted eating periods can help promote more significant fat loss.
· Consume more freshly prepared foods
Replacing processed foods with freshly cut foods is a sure move to achieving that healthy weight. Processed foods are loaded with calories in the form of sugars and fats. Reduced consumption or total abstinence from these foods helps you reduce excess calorie intake.
· Sleep for at least 7 hours
Lack of enough sleep causes makes you too tired to exercise, which lowers the calories burned. Further, sleep deprivation could result in higher calorie intake since one is awake longer hence have more chance to eat. Lack of sleep also disrupts hormonal balance making you hungrier than a person who gets enough rest.
Why should women maintain a healthy weight?
Maintaining a healthy weight across women of different age groups is crucial for ultimate health. A healthy weight will reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and different forms of cancer. This alone should trigger your brain and adopt strategies that focus on ensuring healthy weight maintenance.
If your weight is about 10 pounds more than what you weighed at 21years, you are in the healthy range and kudos!!. A focus on maintaining that range will ensure consistency in a healthy weight.
Weight gain with age increases your risk of developing one or more chronic illnesses, yet adults in the 18-49 age bracket gain 1-2 pounds yearly. Adult women who gain about 11-22 pounds after 22 years are three times likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes than those who gain less than 5 pounds.
Adult weight gain after menopause period is likely to increase your risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.
- While we cannot specifically pinpoint a figure and label it “healthy weight for women,” the article highlights certain weight measures that could keep you in check i.e., your BMI and body fat percentage.
- Attaining that healthy weight requires healthy eating practices, proper sleeping patterns, and regular exercise.
- Weight gain is sometimes involuntary as in cases of genetics, but healthy living practices will limit excess gain.
- Healthy weight equals a healthy body and minimal risk of chronic illnesses
Got any insights or comments? Please let us know in the comment section. We appreciate your feedback.
AMCHP/CityMatch Women Health Partnership, (2006) promoting Healthy Weight Among Women of Reproductive Age.
Dan Wessels, (2020).What is the average weight for women? Accessed online on 1st April,2020 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321003
Fryar, C. D., Kruszan-Moran, D., Gu, Q., & Ogden, C. L. (2018). Mean body weight, weight, waist circumference, and body mass index among adults: United States, 1999–2000 through 2015–2016. Accessed from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr122-508.pdf
Harvard School of Public Health (2020), The Nutrition Source. Accessed online on 1st April, 2020 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/
Percent Body Fat Calculator: Skinfold Method. Accesssed on 1st April 2020 from https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/tools-calculators/percent-body-fat-calculator