Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference are two measurements that can help determine a healthy weight range for you. A doctor also considers your overall health and risk factors.

Stepping on a scale can be a daunting task. You’re not alone if you feel uncomfortable thinking about your weight.

It’s important to remember body weight is just one indicator of your overall health. Before deciding whether you should gain or lose weight, it’s important to talk with a doctor.

A doctor can help you determine a healthy weight range for you. They may use your BMI or waist circumference to help with this decision, but they’ll also consider your age, ethnicity, body composition, health history, and risk for health conditions.

This article takes a closer look at the factors determining a healthy body weight range.

A healthy weight range can depend on:

  • your age
  • height
  • sex
  • ethnicity
  • body type
  • life goals

When considering whether you need to lose weight, your doctor may also look for additional risk factors for heart disease, including:

Two measurements that can be useful in determining an appropriate weight range are BMI and waist circumference.

BMI is calculated based on your weight and height. A score below 18.5 is considered underweight. A score of 25 or higher is considered overweight. A score of 30 or higher is considered obesity.

Although it’s just an estimation of body fat, a BMI score may help indicate whether you have a greater risk of developing health conditions.

You can use this BMI calculator to determine your BMI:

A BMI score should be used alongside other measurements

A BMI score alone is not a perfect tool for determining a healthy weight range because it does not account for your age, ethnicity, or body composition.

Doctors typically recommend considering BMI alongside other measurements and tests. Measurements include your waist circumference and your waist-to-hip ratio.

To calculate your waist-to-hip ratio, you measure your waist and hip circumferences. Then, you divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference.

Your waist-to-hip ratio can help determine how much weight is stored on your waist, hip, and buttocks. This is important because where you store your weight can affect your risk for health conditions.

However, getting accurate measurements for your waist and hip circumferences can be hard. You may get an inaccurate ratio as a result.

You can read more about waist-to-hip ratios and their scoring here.

While BMI and waist-to-hip ratio can help indicate whether body weight is increasing the risk of health conditions, a doctor can provide more detailed and accurate advice by looking at the entirety of your health.

If you’re trying to reduce your weight, it’s important to:

On the other hand, if your doctor recommends gaining weight, you can consider:

  • exercising regularly to build muscle and increase your appetite
  • snacking frequently on whole foods high in protein, like nuts and cheese
  • consuming beverages like protein shakes between meals

It’s important to talk with a doctor about your plans for adjusting your weight. They can offer insights about potential health risks and provide referrals to other specialists, like dietitians and physical therapists, who can help you achieve your health goals.

BMI and waist circumference are two measurements that can help determine healthy weight ranges.

Doctors also consider your age, ethnicity, body composition, health history, and risk for health conditions when recommending an appropriate weight range.

If you need to lose weight, a doctor may recommend that you work with a dietitian, physical therapist, or trainer. These healthcare professionals can help guide your workouts and diet. They can also help support you as you make healthy lifestyle changes.