Is a Height and Weight Chart?
Height and weight charts can determine whether you’re the correct
weight for your height. Healthcare providers use these tools to monitor:
- childhood growth and development
- weight management
- weight loss
When you go in for a regular checkup, your healthcare provider
will likely take your height and weight measurements. They then use the
measurements to determine whether you’re in a normal weight range for your
height, age, and gender.
It’s important to recognize that these tools are only part of
health assessments. No one number fits every individual.
Are the Types of Height and Weight Charts?
Healthcare providers use three primary types of charts to measure
height and weight.
This is a growth chart for children up to 36 months old. During
the assessment, a healthcare provider measures around the widest part of the
head. Normal height and weight usually directly correlates with a normal head
A head that’s unusually small for a child’s height may indicate
delayed brain development. On the other hand, an unusually large head-to-body
ratio may indicate fluid retention in the brain.
Body mass index (BMI)
A BMI chart is among the most common height and weight charts
used by healthcare providers. Medical professionals use this tool for people as
young as age 2. The primary purpose is to determine whether you’re within a
normal weight range for your height, or if you’re underweight or overweight.
According to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals fall into one of the
following BMI ranges:
- 18.5 or less: underweight
- 18.5 to 24.9: healthy weight range
- 25.0 to 29.9: overweight
- 30.0 or higher: obese
BMI derives from one of the following two formulas, depending on
the units of measurement for height and weight:
and inches: weight (pounds) divided by [height (inches)] squared, and
the result multiplied by 703
and meters: weight (kilograms) divided by [height (meters)] squared
This is a chart often used in conjunction with BMI. It’s based on
the idea that a larger waist can indicate a higher-than-normal weight for your
height. According to the CDC, a healthy
waistline is less than 35 inches in non-pregnant women and less than 40 inches
Do the Measurements Mean?
Head circumference, and height and weight measurements are
crucial in monitoring a child’s healthy development. Your pediatrician will
place your child’s measurements on a chart that compares them to the average
height and weight for someone your child’s age.
These are known as percentiles.
The 50th percentile indicates the average height and weight for a given age
group. Any percentile above 50 is above average, and any percentile below 50 is
While percentiles are important for measuring a child’s growth
and development, it’s important to be realistic. If your child is overweight
for their height, you must determine whether lifestyle (lack of exercise or
unhealthy diet) is a factor.
In contrast, being below average may indicate undernourishment.
However, this is rare in the United States. Talk to your healthcare provider
about all the factors that can influence height and weight in children.
As you reach your full adult height, the focus of BMI
measurements transitions toward weight management. Adults with above-normal
BMIs are encouraged to lose weight. The same is true for men and non-pregnant
women with large waist measurements. Decreasing your weight by even a small
percentage may help decrease your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Healthcare providers pay special attention to children and adults
with BMIs in the obese range. Obesity is an epidemic that raises the risk of
developing serious health conditions. If exercise and diet do little to reduce
your weight, your healthcare provider may suggest weight loss medications or
Are the Drawbacks of Height and Weight Charts?
Height and weight charts are routine tools that help diagnose
potential health problems. While number ranges can help, there’s no
one-size-fits-all number for every person. In fact, the CDC points out
that a BMI assessment is a screening tool, but it shouldn’t be the single test
relied upon for any diagnosis.
If you take your measurements at home and are outside of a normal
range, it may be helpful to schedule an appointment with your healthcare
provider to ensure that no underlying health problems exist.
It’s also important to pay close attention to the evolution of
your child’s height and weight. If your child’s measurements consistently
reveal wide variations above or below a certain percentile, you may need to
follow up with your pediatrician.