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Weight and height tables

WMar 18 05

Alternative names
Height and weight tables


Weight and height tables are available for infants, children, adolescents and adults. Tables may be used to determine the recommended weight range for a given height (ideal body weight). Ranges are based on the body frame size, and there are separate tables for men and women. The estimates are approximate and may be inaccurate in certain situations such as that of body builder (heavily muscled) or pregnant women.


The function of a height and weight table is to help determine if weight is within an appropriate range for height and frame size. These tables are based on actuarial data from the National Center for Health Statistics (for infants, children and adolescents) and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (for adults). The Life Insurance statistics attempt to describe which “desirable” or “ideal” weight is the weight for height of insured persons with the longest life spans. These tables do not tend to take into account differences among races.

A measurement that is more commonly used today is body mass index (BMI). The BMI is thought to be a more accurate reflection of total body fat the comparison of height and weight measurements. The BMI, however, is also subject to errors such as that seen with body builders.

Weight loss or weight gain is classified by the percent of total body weight (actual weight, not the ideal weight) that is lost or gained. To calculate:

Take the amount of weight lost (or gained) divided by the previous (actual normal weight), and times by 100.

  • For example, a loss of 20 pounds from 140 lbs to 120 lbs would be calculated this way:

20/140 x 100 = loss of 14% of total body weight.

Obesity is classified by the percent over the ideal body weight.
The difference between the actual weight and the ideal weight is divided by the ideal weight, then times 100 to get the percent overweight.
For example, an ideal weight of 120 with an actual weight of 150 would be calculated this way:

150 - 120 = 30
30/120 x 100 = 25% overweight

Determining desirable body weight:
If the tables are not available, a simple way to determine desirable body weight is as follows:

  • Women: 100 pounds of body weight for the first 5 feet of height, 5 pounds for each additional inch.  
  • Men: 106 pounds of body weight for the first 5 feet of height, 6 pounds for each additional inch.  
  • Add 10% for a large frame size, and subtract 10% for a small frame size.

Determining frame size:
To determine the body frame size, measure the wrist with a tape measure and use the following chart to determine whether the person is small, medium, or large boned.


  • height under 5’2”       o small = wrist size less than 5.5”       o medium = wrist size 5.5” to 5.75”       o large = wrist size over 5.75”  
  • height 5’2” to 5’ 5”       o small = wrist size less than 6”       o medium = wrist size 6” to 6.25”       o large = wrist size over 6.25”  
  • height over 5’ 5”       o small = wrist size less than 6.25”       o medium = wrist size 6.25” to 6.5”       o large = wrist size over 6.5”


  • height over 5’ 5”       o small = wrist size 5.5” to 6.5”       o medium = wrist size 6.5” to 7.5”       o large = wrist size over 7.5”

Using the above formula, you can determine your desirable body weight. The formula provides an approximate desirable body weight for height. The weight range can vary on an individual basis.

These tables are only appropriate to use with adults. For children, the height, weight, and head circumference should be measured and plotted in relationship to age on a growth chart at each well child check from 2 weeks through 3 years of age. After age 3, only the height and weight are measured and recorded. Each individual growth measurement is not that helpful to the pediatrician, but the pattern of growth over time is extremely important.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Dave R. Roger, M.D.

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