BMI Chart For Women

BMI Chart For Women


Have you ever wondered what the big fuss around BMI is? What is it, what is it used for, and is it the best way to measure weight? Well, this BMI guide for women will answer all these questions, so stay tuned.

Even though there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ weight, weight measurements are important to establish and/ or predict health risks. High body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage are both directly related to various health issues such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attacks.

What is BMI?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of your weight compared to your height and is used to determine your risk for developing certain weight-related health problems. Let’s repeat that... it’s merely used to determine your risk for developing certain weight-related health problems and not as a diagnostic tool.

BMI is widely used since it is an easy-to-use and inexpensive tool with moderate accuracy.

If you’re currently pregnant, you’re probably thinking ‘how is this relevant to me?’ because of course, you will gain some weight during pregnancy! Gaining weight during pregnancy is a normal and healthy part of the journey, however, research suggests that poor pregnancy outcomes are strongly connected with being overweight or obese. Increased BMI during and before pregnancy may lead to complications such as preeclampsia, thrombosis, and gestational diabetes. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy will depend on your pre-pregnancy weight and women who fall in the ‘normal or healthy BMI range’ are generally expected to gain about 25-35 lbs during pregnancy. Your midwife and Gynecologist will, however, assess your health at each antenatal visit and guide you to look after your own health as well as your little one, so don’t worry about this too much.




How is BMI calculated?

BMI is calculated by taking your weight divided by the square of your height. See the table below;




Formula: weight (kg) / [height (m)]2

Formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703


(Times 703 is for the conversion factor)


Different ranges & Description of each

BMI can be defined by using different weight categories in individuals 20 years and older, and is generally standardized for all body types, ages, and both women and men.


The standard BMI ranges per weight status for adults include;

  • Underweight = below 18.5

If an you fall in the ‘underweight range’, your weight might be too low and will, therefore, impact your health. This can be influenced by genetics, poverty/ malnutrition, medical conditions, reduced appetite due to medication or drug use, or eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. The global prevalence of underweight among women is 9.7%, between 1975 and 2014.

  • Normal or healthy weight = 18.5 - 24.9

According to scientists, this is the BMI range necessary for your body to function at it’s best.

  • Overweight = 25.0 – 29.9

If you fall in the ‘overweight range’, your weight might be too high and will, therefore, impact your health. Risk factors include genetics, medical conditions, mental health issues, and eating more calories than burning through activity. In 2016, 39% of adults were classified as ‘overweight’ according to the BMI measurement tool.

  • Obese = 30 and above

If you fall in the ‘obese range’, your weight might be too high and will, therefore, severely impact your health. In 2016, 16% of adults were classified as ‘obese’ according to the BMI measurement tool.


See the chart below, illustrating the different ranges of body fat percentage for women



Is BMI the best measurement of weight & health?

BMI has been used for the past few decades and is a good universal method to measure health risks. However, recent research has indicated that BMI might be receiving more credit than it truly deserves. The reason being that BMI doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle, and it can therefore, not accurately measure your risk for developing health problems due to fat and weight.

You have probably heard of many athletes falling in the ‘overweight range’ according to the BMI measurement tool, even though they have a much lower toal body fat percentage. This is because it doesn’t take the muscle-mass into account.

BMI can also not differentiate between different fat measurements such as; types of fat and/ or where the body stores the fat. Visceral fat for example, or otherwise known as ‘belly-fat’, is much more harmful to your health because it develops around the organs and releases hormones that will negatively impact the functioning of these organs. This is why dieticians and physicians generally prefer measuring your body fat percentage.

Alternative ways to measure body composition 

Alternative ways to measure your body’s composition and determine your risk of developing wight-related health problems are CT -, MRI - and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans. These scans can easily distinguish between fat, muscles, bones, and organs, but are unfortunately extremely expensive.

Other, more practical solutions include; waist circumference, wrist circumference, skinfold measurements, the Body Volume Indicator (BVI), and a body fat scale.

Waist circumference

Researchers indicate that waist circumference is a more accurate predictor of weight-related health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome when compared to BMI. This is because it estimates the amount of visceral fat, the fat that develops between vital organs.

 You can do this by measuring your waist with a tape measure directly on your skin, halfway between your lower ribs and hip bone, as you breathe out. Your health risk is increaed if your measurement is more than 31,4 inches, and severely increased if it’s 34,6 inches or more.

Wrist circumference

Measuring your wrist circumference can help you determine your body frame size and ideal body weight (IBW) for optimal health. Other than BMI, IBW also takes your age, gender, and muscular development into account. Use a tape measure to determine the circumference of your wrist, in inches, just above the styloid process of the ulna. Compare this measurement to your height, by using the table below.


Body frame size

Height (in)

Wrist circumference (in)


5,2 - 5,5


Taller than 5,5

6 or less


6,25 or less


5,2 - 5,5


Taller than 5,5

6 - 6,25


6.25 - 6.5


5,2 - 5,5


Taller than 5,5

6,25 or greater


6,5 or greater


You can determine the ideal weight for women according to this

ideal weight for women



Body Volume Indicator App(BVI)

The Body Volume Indicator App determines the ratio between your total body fat to your visceral fat. The app does this by taking 2 photos of your body, one from the front and one from the side, and then examines your composition and body volume. The App will then provide your body fat volume, visceral fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and BMI.

Experts say this method is more accurate than BMI because it determines the fat distribution and the amount of visceral fat, which is strongly related to weight-related health problems. The BVI app also distinguishes between gender, age, and body type, which BMI does not.

Body Fat Scale

A Body Fat Scale uses Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) to assess the body’s composition and the amount of fat and muscle tissue. It does this through weak electrical currents flowing throughout the body. The scale will notice more resistance with more fat deposits, as fat conducts less electricity than water. If an individual is quite muscular, the scale will measure a lower resistance or impedance, and therefore a lower fat percentage, because our bodies hold most water in the muscles. In other words, the more resistance the higher the body fat percentage.

The scale also take your height, gender, and age into account when determining your body fat percentage. This scale is unfortunately not yet suitable for children and women who are pregnant.

BMI is great for providing an overall idea of your weight and health risks.

It is also widely used because it is easy-to-use, inexpensive, and a simple way for healthcare professionals to communicate with one another.

However, as previously mentioned, BMI is unable to determine the body’s composition and where fat is distributed. Body fat percentage can , however, determine an individual’s risk for developing weight-related health problems more reliably when compared to BMI. This is because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the scale says or shows, the higher your body fat percentage, the higher your risk for developing health issues such as; asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular disorders and diabetes.

 BMI and other weight measurement tools may provide some insight but shouldn’t be your ‘everything’. Focus on your eating habits, exercise regularly and look after your physical and mental health on a daily basis.