The ideal weight is a term about the existence of which is disputed both in science and in everyday practice. On the one hand, there is an abundance of statistics and guides that specify a certain weight as desirable. A correlation can certainly also be established between certain cardiovascular diseases and excessive weight. On the other hand, research has shown that even a deviation from the ideal weight (of whatever kind) does not have to give cause for concern. But can be “completely normal”. The background to this is that, in addition to weight, values such as muscle mass, the percentage of body fat and its distribution as well as the waist circumference play a role.
When do we speak of ideal weight?
A characteristic of the definition of ideal weight is also its temporal relationship. If you look at old paintings, you will quickly find that the body size was significantly larger in earlier years. The ideal weight is therefore always subject to contemporary ideas and thus receives a normative character that cannot always be maintained from a scientific point of view. What does that mean? Quite simply that the World Health Organization (WHO) has a Body Mass Index (BMI)between 19 and 25 is considered normal or ideal weight for adults. While scientific studies show that the lowest mortality rate is 27. According to some scientists, people over the age of 70 may even have a BMI of up to 35 without this being considered a health risk.
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Why is the ideal weight controversial?
In general, the concept is considered controversial, which is based on ideal weight. The WHO only set its guide values for the BMI in 1996. In the US, this led to a takeover by national health institutes two years later. As a result, 35 million Americans without any health problems became overweight overnight, as it were.
Another point of criticism, which generally affects the BMI and thus also the construct of the ideal weight, lies in the fact that muscle mass is not taken into account. Competitive athletes and especially those who can be found in the field of heavy athletics often weigh many pounds. Both former boxing world champion Wladimir Klitschko and goalkeeper “Titan” Oliver Kahn were overweight according to the WHO definition during their active days and did not correspond to the ideal weight. This shows how problematic classification can be.
How should the ideal weight be dealt with?
Mind you: both the BMI and the concept of ideal weight may be suitable as a rough guide. Those who fall off the proverbial grid here should, however, also determine their body fat percentage and take a look at their overall health and fitness. These values are just as meaningful as the fat distribution and the often-cited difference between the apple shape (visceral fat) and the pear shape with the significantly less dangerous fat around the hips. In other words: it is not about ideal weight, but about the fact that a person is healthy.
And the normal weight?
Finally, a sentence about normal weight, which is often confused with the ideal weight. Normal weight is the weight that corresponds to the average of a previously defined group. Even if both terms are used almost synonymously in everyday life, normal weight is less about regulation and a “target state” than about a description of the normal values of an age group.
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