Home Up Exercise Omega-3s & Fish Dairy & Eggs Coffee, Tea, Chocolate Minerals Other Issues Fats & Meat Yogurt Fruits & Vegetables Salt Herbal Medicine Vegetarian Weight Whole Grains Guns Vitamins


Research on weight, like any other topic, has findings that vary somewhat.  The ideal weight appears to be somewhere between a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 20 and 24.  A BMI of 25 is officially overweight and a BMI of 30 is obese.  Studies on attractiveness find that BMIs of 19 to 21 are ideal.  It is normal for humans to gain some weight as they age, so it is not surprising that slightly higher BMIs are also healthy for middle-aged and older individuals.  BMIs that are too low, i.e. under 19, are associated with higher death rates.  In the elderly, being overweight has much less adverse impact.

The weight is one that yields a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 24 with the low to middle figures ideal.  This equates to the following heights and weight ranges: 

5'3 = 19:105#, 20:115#, 21:120#; 22:125#; 23:130#; 24: 135#, 

5'6 = 19:115#; 20:125#; 21:130#; 22:135#; 23:140#; 24:150#, 

5'9 = 19:130#; 20:135#; 21:140#; 22:150#; 23:155#; 24:160#,

6'0 = 19:140#; 20:145#; 21:155#; 22:160#; 23:170#; 24:180#,

6'3 = 19:155#; 20:160#; 21:170#; 22:180#; 23:195#; 24:195#,

Being unusually well-muscled, yet with little body fat, may put a man a little above these figures and still be in the ideal range for health.


Mortality Up BMI Under18.5 in China Due to Infectious Disease: A study 18,244 adults ages 45-59 followed for seven years found life-long non-smokers with a BMI <18.5 vs. 21.0 had an increase risk of death of 73% (RR 1.73); those with BMIs over 26 vs. 21.0 had a 64% increased risk (RR 1.64 after adjusting for education, alcohol and age). Underweight mortality was due to infection, overweight mortality due to CHD and cerebrovascular disease. Yuan, Int J Epidem 10/98;27:824

Mortality U-Shaped Curve in Finland: Lowest and highest quintile had higher mortality with higher from CHD and lower non-CHD including cancer. Mortality was 1.5 times higher in those groups. 17000 Finnish women 25-74 followed for 12 yr. Rissanen, J Clin Epid 91

Ideal Japanese BMI 22-24: 12000 adults 40-59yo 7yr f/u found female ideal BMI 22-24 and U-shape with BMI<20 RR 1.95, >26 RR 1.71. Male L-shaped with ideal BMI 24 RR 0.92 and lowest BMI RR 1.61. Ishii, Nippon Koshu Eisei Zasshi 1/98;45:27

BMI 20-22 Better than <18: 11000 Brits, vegetarians and their meat eating friends, with 18 yr f/u found double mortality in those the BMI under 18. Increase occurred in cardiovacs and respiratory but not cancer. Relation between body mass index and mortality in an unusually slim cohort. Thorogood M, Appleby PN, Key TJ, Mann J. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2003 Feb;57(2):130-3

BMI 20-22 Ideal: Brit study 10802 16-79yo 13.3yr f/u health conscious veg, semi-veg and meat eaters. Group as whole ˝ mortality of population. Total and sat animal fats and dietary cholesterol assoc IHD mortality. BMI 20-22.5 lower than 22.5-25 or higher. Fish, fiber, alcohol not protective. Mann, New Zealand, Heart ’97;78:450

BMI 20-22 Ideal in Engld: 7735 men 40-59yo f/u 14.8 yr. All mortality incr only for BMI <20 or >30. For non- and former smokers, overall mortality increased from BMI 20-21.9. Shaper, BMJ 5/97;314:1311 @

BMI <21 and Mod-High Alc Bad: 8006 Japanese-Amer in Hawaii f/u 22 yr found BMI<21 and Alc>25 drinks/mo RR 1.63 vs BMI 21-26 and Alc 1-24/mo. Low BMI not good even without alc. Ann Epid ’97;7:311

BMI <18 in 18yos Unfavorable, 19 Best: A 32 year f/u study of 78000 Dutch male 18yos found BMI < 18 or >25 assoc with mortality and 19 was best. Hoffmans, J Clin Epid ‘88.

Best US BMI 23.4-24.9 Men, 22.0-23.4 Women: 1 million adults f/u 14 yr. Rates for non-smokers. NEJM 10/7/99

BMI 23-25 US Best: Hopkins study using NHANES I, II, & III data. Among whites, a J- or U-shaped association was found between overweight or obesity and Years of Life Lost (YLL). The optimal BMI (associated with the least YLL or greatest longevity) is approximately 23 to 25 for whites and 23 to 30 for blacks. For any given degree of overweight, younger adults generally had greater YLL than did older adults. The maximum YLL for white men aged 20 to 30 years with a severe level of obesity (BMI >45) is 13 and is 8 for white women. For men, this could represent a 22% reduction in expected remaining life span. Among black men and black women older than 60 years, overweight and moderate obesity were generally not associated with an increased YLL and only severe obesity resulted in YLL. However, blacks at younger ages with severe levels of obesity had a maximum YLL of 20 for men and 5 for women. Years of life lost due to obesity. Fontaine KR, Redden DT, Wang C, Westfall AO, Allison DB. JAMA 2003 Jan 8;289(2):187-93

Elderly French BMI 23-27 Best: In apparently healthy elderly people a BMI ranging between 23 and 27 is associated with lower risks of functional and cognitive declines in the subsequent 5 y. Only 169 over 68yo in study. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002 Apr;56(4):305-12

BMI 26 Elderly Men, 29 Elderly Women Best on Antihypertensives: In 3975 adults (mean age, 71 years) in the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program trial, a a 5-year DB PC study of low dose antihypertensive therapy, there was no statistically significant relation of death or stroke with BMI in the placebo group (P = .47), and there was a U- or J-shaped relation in the treatment group. The J-shaped relation of death with BMI in the treated group (P = .03) showed that the lowest probability of death for men was associated with a BMI of 26.0 and for women with a BMI of 29.6; the curve was quite flat for women across a wide range of BMIs. For stroke, men and women did not differ, and the BMI nadir for both sexes combined was 29, with risk increasing steeply at BMIs below 24. Those in active treatment, however, had lower death and stroke rates compared with those taking placebo. Relation of low body mass to death and stroke in the systolic hypertension in the elderly program. The SHEP Cooperative Research Group. Wassertheil-Smoller S, et al. Albert Einstein. . Arch Intern Med 2000 Feb 28;160(4):494-500.

Elderly: BMI Not Predictor of Longevity: In the 7-year follow-up FHILL study of elderly over age 69 in Japan, Greece, Australia, and Swedes, having a BMI <20 or being underweight/undernutrition (RR 1.45), being overweight (RR 1.16; BMI > 25), or being obese (RR 0.97) did not significantly reduce or increase mortality. Body mass index is not a significant predictor of survival amongst older people. Blackberry I, Kouris-Blazos A, et al, National Ageing Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13(Suppl):S137. Ed: The federal government just caved in to the bariatric surgery industry and popular vanity in approving weight control treatment under Medicare.  Medicare is already hopelessly broke and the politicians are spending the money the post-war baby boom has worked to save before any of them will reach age 65. 

Korean BMI Under 20 Bad, 24-25 Best: kg/m2. 12 yr prospective study. Little difference between 22-29 but lower than 20 or higher the 29 unfavorable. Epid 3/01

Review Says Short Better: Review of 8 cultures says short stature with lower energy intake in absence of disease or malnutrition general best for longevity with some exceptions.Acta Med Okayama 8/99. Small Finnish and Swedish studies found short stature associated with unfavorable follow-up. J Intern Med 6/99

Great Indicator Sex Attractiveness: 73% variance of sex attractiveness in females explained by BMI vs 2% by waist/hip ratio with max attractiveness between 19 and 21 although it doesn’t fall off dramatically with small changes. BMI of 20 = 5’3 (112 ˝#), 5’5 (120#), 5’7 (127#), 5’9 (135#), 5’11 (143#)

Exercise Lowers CRP, Fibrinogen, WBC; Raises Albumin: 13,700 in NHANES III Survey showed markedly lower risk for elevated CRP in individuals engaging in vigorous exercise (OR 0.53). mounting evidence that physical activity may reduce inflammation, which is a critical process in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Epidemiology 2002 Sep;13(5):561-8. Fibrinogen was directly related to age, body mass index (BMI) and female gender and inversely to alcohol and moderate-heavy physical activity practice. Eur J Epidemiol 2001;17(10):953-8

Red or White Meat, Overweight Increase; Peas, Nuts, & Beans Decrease Colon Cancer: Chicken & fish no better but peas and beans decr (>BIW=RR .53) colon CA in prospective 6 yr study 32,051 7th Day Adventists. QWk red meat increase colon ca 38% (RR 1.85), Qwk white meat increase 55% (RR 1.90). QIW meat incr 200%. Increase BMI>25.6 RR 2.63 vs. BMI<22.5. Aspirin over Qwk RR .83. Lower risk for women who have had at least one child RR .72. Nuts at least Qwk RR .67. Pramil Singh, Loma Linda, Am J Epid 10/98 148:761-74. Less than 20% variation in colon ca due to heredity. Antiox vitamins, Calcium, Vit D often found protective. Cruciferous, fruits and legumes reported beneficial. Physical activity, obesity, aspirin use (inverse effect?), cigs may contribute. Nurses’ Study found same with beef, pork, or lamb as a main dish every day was 2.49 (1.24 to 5.03) compared with women reporting consumption less than once a month. physical activity was associated inversely with the risk of large adenomas (= " src="/math/12pt/normal/ges.gif"1 cm) in the distal colon (relative risk 0.57 ). Of 19 published studies of hormonal replacement therapy and risk of colorectal cancer, 10 support an inverse association and a further five show a significant reduction in risk. The risk seems lowest among long term users.

Short-Term Weight Changes Not Harmful: In a 17-year follow-up of 8100 women ages 50-66 in the Netherlands there was a statistically significant increased risk of mortality from all causes (hazard ratio: 1.4), cardiovascular disease, and cancer for women in the highest quartile of BMI (in kg/m(2)), > or =27.77). Mortality from all causes, CVD, and cancer did not increase significantly in women with a weight gain of > or =15%. Weight loss was also not significantly related to mortality from all causes, CVD, and cancer. Body mass index and short-term weight change in relation to mortality in Dutch women after age 50 y. Maru S, van der Schouw YT, et al, Utrecht, Netherlands. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):231-6.