What’s age got to do with ideal weight?
If you’ve ever tried to find your ideal weight by age, height and gender, you’ll know that it’s hard. Weight for height charts and ideal weight calculators use your height and gender to give you an average ideal weight. Age seems to have nothing to do with it. So, what’s the best way to find your ideal weight and should age matter?
The conflicting evidence for and against ideal weight by age
Is your ideal weight different now than it was 10, 20 or even 30 years ago? Most people would say it is, I mean, how many people do you know that can still fit into their wedding dress after 10 years and two kids? Marks & Spencer’s fashion range is well known for aiming at a certain age demographic. And their size 10 (in my opinion) is more like Miss Selfridge’s size 12-14! It stands to reason then, that as you get older, so you’ll get wider and heavier.
But there is also evidence to the contrary. Look at Victoria Beckham, who’s had 3 children and is no spring chicken any more. Victoria looks smaller and thinner now than at the peak of her singing career. Also, it’s well known that women are prone to a loss of bone density as they get older. So shouldn’t they weigh less, not more?
Let’s think this through logically then.
Ideal weight by gender
Your ideal weight is based on your gender because there are known physiological differences between men and women. These include fat percentage, bone density and muscle mass.
Ideal weight by height
Ideal weight is calculated using height because your height is something that you can’t change. And it directly affects how much you should weigh. It stands to reason that if you’re 5ft 4”, you should weigh less than someone of the same gender who is 5ft 10”. They need more skin and tissue, just to cover the extra bones they have (which themselves will likely weigh more than yours).
Ideal weight by age
Your ideal weight by age then – how does your age affect your ideal weight? While you’re still growing, your age will indirectly affect your ideal weight. Indirectly, because it is the increase in height and bone mass that directly affects ideal weight. As you age, your muscles often lose mass too, though your skin volume could increase, particularly if it has been stretched by being overweight. Having children will of course change your physical appearance, at least in the short term. But there is no irreversible effect.
What exactly is an ideal weight then?
An ideal weight is one which is deemed optimal for good health. And it is usually derived from the mid-point of an average range for healthy people of the same height and gender.
But what about metabolism?
Many people experience a slower metabolism with age and so think that this should affect their ideal weight. If you’re one of those looking for a higher ideal weight by age, because older people have a slower metabolism, you may need to think again. The real effect of a slower metabolism is that it makes it harder to lose weight. That’s because you’ll need to eat fewer calories or burn more energy than your younger self.
Have a play with this weight loss forecaster. It takes into account your age, your height, your current weight, your activity levels and your diet motivation. Then it calculates your BMI and your BMR to forecast how long it will take you to lose the weight and reach your ideal weight.
An ideal weight is the mid point of an average range based on height and gender. A calculation based on the ideal weight by age though isn’t the right way to go about determining the best weight for you. Many other factors will affect what is the best weight for you personally (we’re not all average). The best way to find the right weight for you, is to aim for the mid-point average as a starting point and then see how you look and feel when you get there. It may just be worth digging out your wedding dress and trying it on for size after all. Because it’s likely that your ideal weight today is very similar to the weight you were on that special day!
If you’re finding it hard to lose weight over 50, read our article that talks through Anni’s experience.