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Weight Concerns - What Is Normal?

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My sister and I are both in our 30's and about 5'5". I weigh more than she does, but only by about 10 pounds. She thinks that I'm overweight, but I think she is on the thin side. I don't feel fat. I exercise, have good muscle tone, and feel fine. What should a person weigh who is our height?



Dear Comparing,

Weight can depend on other factors such as type of body frame and muscle density. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you can't go by weight alone. The percentage of body fat for a woman should not exceed 22%.

A female who is 5'5" can weigh from 117 to 155 pounds depending on size of body frame. To get an idea of body frame for someone 5'5", measure your wrist with a tape measure: small = 6" or less; medium = 6" to 6.25"; large = greater than 6.25".

BMI: Body Mass Index is body weight adjusted for height. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( gives the BMI formula as weight in pounds divided by the squared height in inches all multiplied by 703. So, if you weigh 140 pounds and are 65 inches (5'5"), then your BMI is 23.2, which is "Normal."

For Kilograms and centimeters: weight in kilograms divided by squared height in meters (height in centimeters divide by 100 first, then square).

The BMI chart is a follows:

BMI Below 18.5 = Underweight

BMI 18.5 - 24.9 = Normal

BMI 25.0 - 29.9 = Overweight

BMI 30.0 and above = Obese

The CDC also recommends another way to check weight is to measure the waist. Those at risk for developing obesity related conditions have the following waist circumferences (CDC, 2009):

1. Men: over 40 inches

2. Women (non-pregnant): over 35 inches

Determining desirable body weight:

The U.S. National Library of Medicine at gives this simple way to calculate desirable body weight without a chart.

1. Women: 100 pounds of body weight for the first 5 feet of height, 5 pounds for each additional inch.

2. 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.


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.

WOMEN: under 5'2"

Small frame = wrist size less than 5.5"

Medium frame = wrist size 5.5"-5.75"

Large frame = wrist size over 5.75"

WOMEN: 5'2"-5'5"

Small frame = wrist size less than 6"

Medium frame = wrist size 6"-6.25"

Large frame = wrist size over 6.25"

WOMEN: 5'5" or greater

Small frame = wrist size less than 6.25"

Medium frame = wrist size 6.25"-6.5"

Large frame = wrist size over 6.5"

MEN: over 5'5"

Small frame = wrist size 5.5"-6.5"

Medium frame = wrist size 6.5"-7.5"

Large frame = wrist size over 7.5"