Lots of people are concerned about ideals. Trying to determine what is an ideal body weight is high on the list of things that folks are often worried about.
It’s both a blessing and a curse to be thinking about these things.
On the one hand, it means that one is at least beginning to think about how best to achieve a weight that leads to an increase in health and wellbeing.
But it can also be a curse because it may lead to well-intentioned people focusing on the wrong things. After all, what do we mean when we talk about an ideal weight? Surely the ideal weight for you may not be the same for another person of similar stature who deals with their own specific health challenges.
To take this idea one step further, consider a man who stands at 5-foot-7 and weighs 250 pounds. We might think that he was overweight — or at least over his ideal weight. But what if this man was a professional athlete with very little body fat? Would we feel the same about his weight then?
So let’s examine this idea — what is an ideal body weight? — but also put the whole conversation into some perspective.
What’s Up With Ideal Body Weight?
Ideal body weight is not just a descriptive term. As we’re using it here, it’s actually a highly specific term. Ideal Body Weight (IBW) calculations used in and around weight loss surgery hold special meaning. One might think, incorrectly in this situation, Ideal Body Weight would be an ideal weight after surgery or the “goal” weight after surgery.
The ideal body weight calculation we use is based on the New York Life tables from the 1960s. Actuarials looked at humans at every height and observed the life span of folks at varying weights for that height. The ideal body weight was the weight of those people who lived the longest.
So, those life tables probably do still have significance — even though the calculations seem “skinny.” We have generally become accustomed to a more plump body habitus (body type).
Bariatric surgeons use IBW to calculate the amount of weight someone is overweight. Because we all use the same calculation for IBW, the amount of excess weight calculated for each patient is the same in Oklahoma, California, New York, London, Japan, or anywhere else. In this way, we can compare outcomes in a meaningful way. (It helps make an apples-to-apples comparison if you will).
IBW is not a goal, but a normalizing number. Only about 1% of people get down to their IBW after bariatric operations. One-half of those folks are in good health; they have just lost a lot of weight. The other half usually has some medical issue (physiologic, psychologic, or sociologic).
Bariatric operations, in general, allow people to lose 55% (band) to 75% (gastric bypass, gastric sleeve) of their excess weight, (excess weight equals original weight minus IBW).
To calculate your body mass index click here. And remember to get in touch with us if you have any questions whatsoever about our bariatric surgery procedures. Our goal is to return you to full health and wellbeing, and we will work with you to devise a plan of action that does just that.
At WeightWise, we will never pressure you. We won’t push our patients toward a particular procedure unless specific circumstances require such a recommendation.
Take the next step to a healthier you by getting in touch with WeightWise today! And remember: We also have a metabolic program that offers nonsurgical weight-loss methods. Whatever you need and however you need it, WeightWise is here for you.
Entered: Gregory F. Walton, MD, FACS – WeightWise
Note: We updated this post on 12/6/21.