What does the average American woman weigh?
An average American woman 20 years old and up weighs 170.6 pounds and stands at 63.7 inches (almost 5 feet, 4 inches) tall.
Also the average waist circumference? It’s 38.6 inches.
Those numbers may or may not be surprising to you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that some 39.8 percent of adults in the United States are obese, based on data through 2016.
For women, this breaks down as follows:
|Age group (years)||Percent considered overweight or obese||Percent considered obese|
|75 and up||67.4||32.7|
As of 2016, the average weights for women in different age groups were:
|Age group (years)||Average weight (pounds)|
|60 and older||166.5|
How do Americans compare to other nations of the world?
People in North America have the highest average body mass in the world, according to a 2012 study. More than 70 percent of the population falls into the overweight-to-obese ranges.
People in Asia, on the other hand, have the lowest body mass. Specifically, the average body mass index (BMI) for Japan in 2005 was just 22.9. In comparison, the average BMI in the United States was 28.7.
If you need another way to look at it, 1 ton of body mass represents 12 North American adults. In Asia, 1 ton represents 17 adults.
The percentages of people worldwide who are considered overweight are listed below:
|Region||Percent considered overweight|
|Latin America and the Caribbean||57.9|
How are weight ranges reached?
Your height, sex, and fat and muscle composition all factor into your ideal weight. There are various tools to help you figure out your number. BMI, one of the most popular tools, uses a formula that involves your height and weight.
To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared. Then multiply that result by 703. You can also plug this information into an online calculator.
Once you know your BMI, you can determine where it falls:
- Underweight: anything under 18.5
- Healthy: anything between 18.5 and 24.9
- Overweight: anything between 25.0 and 29.9
- Obese: anything above 30.0
Although this method offers a good starting point, your BMI may not always be the most accurate measure of your ideal weight. Why? It goes back to factors such as frame size, muscle composition, and your age.
Athletes, for example, may weigh more due to high muscle mass and get an overweight result. Older adults, on the other hand, tend to store more fat than younger adults.
It’s important to note that BMI for children and teens is given as a percentile. Their heights and weights are constantly changing. As a result, it’s most useful to look at their BMIs in relationship to the BMIs of other children who are the same age and sex.
For example, a 13-year-old girl who is 5 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds has a BMI of 19.5. However, her BMI would be expressed as “at the 60th percentile” for 13-year-old girls. This means her weight is greater than that of 60 percent of her peers, placing her in the healthy range.
What’s the relationship between weight and height?
Even with its limitations, your BMI can be a good starting place when looking at your overall health. To see where your BMI falls, take a look at this chart to find your ideal weight by height.
|Height in feet and inches||Healthy weight in pounds (or BMI 18.5–24.9)|
What are some ways to determine your body composition?
For the most accurate measure of whether you’re at an ideal weight, you may consider visiting your doctor for specialized tests, such as:
- skinfold thickness tests, which mostly use calipers (these can also be performed by personal trainers)
- densitometry, which uses underwater weighing
- bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), which uses a device to measure the flow of electrical current in the body
The fitness organization American Council on Exercise (ACE) uses the following classification system for female body fat percentage:
|Classification||Body fat percentage (%)|
|Obese||32 and up|
Your waist-to-hip ratio is another good indicator of whether or not you’re at a healthy weight. To calculate this ratio, you should first take your measurements at your natural waist and at the widest part of your lower body.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), women should have a maximum waist-to-hip ratio of 0.85.
A waist-to-hip ratio over 1.0 puts women at risk for health conditions associated with visceral fat, or belly fat. These conditions include breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
The waist-to-hip ratio may not be the most accurate metric for some subsets of people, including children and people with a BMI over 35.
How can you control your weight?
Keeping your weight within the healthy range can take hard work, but it’s well worth the effort. Not only will you potentially feel your best, but you’ll also prevent medical conditions tied to obesity.
Consider taking the advice below if you need to lose a few pounds to get to your ideal weight. These key steps can help you get there.
Decrease your portion sizes
A quarter of your plate should contain a palm-sized portion of lean protein, such as salmon or chicken breast. Another quarter of your plate should hold a fist-sized portion of a whole grain, such as brown rice or quinoa. The last half of your plate should be piled with vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and bell peppers.
Try waiting a while
Eat breakfast and don’t skip meals. Your body needs consistent nutrition throughout the day to run at its best. Without proper fuel, you won’t feel well and your body won’t work efficiently.
Munch on more fiber
Women should be taking in 21 to 25 grams of fiber each day. If you’re having trouble in this area, add foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals to your diet. Whole-wheat pastas, rice, and beans are other good options. The idea here is that fiber fills you up quickly, ultimately curbing your appetite.
The current recommendations for weekly exercise are 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity, such as walking or yoga, or 75 minutes a week of more vigorous activity, such as running or cycling.
Drink more water
Women should be getting 11.5 cups of fluids each day. Water is best and lowest in calories, but any beverage — including tea, coffee, and sparkling water — counts toward your daily hydration goal.
Weight alone doesn’t tell how healthy you are. Eating well, exercising, staying hydrated, and getting good sleep are all important, no matter your size.
If you do need to shed a few pounds, start by setting a realistic goal with your doctor or by determining the appropriate BMI or weight for your frame. From there, create a plan with the help of your doctor or dietitian and set goals that you can work toward.