What is the ideal BMI for a woman?

 I don't have any trouble getting an answer to that question from both sides. On one hand, I have friends that think I'm too thin; on the other, I have girls telling me I'm too large. I find myself at a loss for what the "perfect" BMI should be, for myself.

What is the ideal BMI for a woman?
What BMI is most attractive for a woman?

What is the ideal BMI for a woman? It depends on what a woman is trying to achieve with her ideal weight, but generally, a body-mass index (BMI) between 21.0 and 25.0 is considered optimal. That’s based on a recent Canadian Health survey that surveyed almost 20,000 women between the ages of 25 and 65.

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a way to compare the healthiness of a person’s weight. BMI is defined as the weight of an individual (in kilograms) relative to his or her height (in meters) squared. Thus, a person’s BMI should be used to look at their overall fitness and health within a healthy weight range.

I was looking at the BMI tables and was noticing how there are huge gaps in that scale. I can see one-to-five point differences in one BMI category to the next in the "normal" range and even more in the over weight and under weight ranges. So what is normal, and what is obese?

My BMI is 24 and it looks fine to me. I know others who are obese but never get to be in these groups and others who are thin and never have any problems. My current thinking is that BMI needs to come down as much as possible and that the only people who need to worry about becoming obese or overweight are those who are already overweight. I believe that BMI is a flawed measure in either direction, but that it is most accurate in the middle.

There are a lot of factors in the equation. Your weight and your activity level are the two most important factors, but just because you weigh what you do doesn't mean you have to eat that much to have enough calories to be a healthy person. Exercise is important, but a healthy diet is also essential.

So what is normal? I would start with normal. Then try to figure out which BMI category you are in. Once that's done, try to get your weight up or down to stay in that category. In other words, don't gain more weight than you have to and don't worry about it. We all gain weight at times. You just have to figure out when it's necessary to gain weight and when you can control your eating and exercising to keep your weight where it belongs.

My doctor is really insistent that I keep my body fat percentage under 25%. I have a BMI of 23 and she says I have to lose weight. Is she correct?

I think you need to talk to your doctor about that. At my current weight of 160 pounds, I'm on the border between normal and overweight. I'm a little above the upper limit in percent body fat, but just barely. My BMI also shows me to be under the 25% mark. So the fact that your doctor said you needed to lose weight is probably more of a statement about what she thinks your body fat percentage should be than it is an indication that you're overweight.

One thing I've been told is that overweight people need to get more exercise. Is that true? If so, how many calories per day and how much can I exercise?

First, you need to talk to a doctor about how much exercise you should be getting. I personally would like to lose weight, not exercise it off. Exercise can definitely help you lose weight, but in my opinion, getting out of breath and looking like a hamster in a wheel is not a good way to lose weight. It would be more realistic to exercise three to five times per week and work up to 30 minutes of strenuous physical activity like running, or playing sports like basketball or soccer. You can find out what the current recommendations are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or your physician.

What is the ideal BMI for a woman? In general, how many people are overweight? Why is it important?

It is important to be aware that in a large number of individuals, one who is fat can be healthy and in a slim individual, one who is thin, there may be problems. At the same time it is important to be aware that many people are underweight when in fact they have high risk factors that will be more associated with a risk of developing diabetes.

Therefore, I would like to point out that in individuals who are not overweight, overweight individuals can have a more favourable blood pressure and lipoprotein profile (including triglyceride and HDL cholesterol) than individuals with normal body weight.

In the case of an individual who is underweight, they may have a greater risk of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, and also have increased risks for diseases such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

As previously indicated, many individuals who are overweight report they do not exercise regularly. The best way to lose weight is to reduce calorie intake by eating fewer than you need. However, with so many people who are overweight, it is necessary to include activities which promote fat loss as part of your healthy lifestyle. Among these are walking or jogging, swimming, biking and aerobics to name a few.

There is no doubt in my mind that if I could encourage my patients to get more exercise, they will lose weight.

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