Forget the “Ideal Weight”

An insightful article from the New York Times argues that the idea of an “ideal weight” should be forgotten, and the focus should be shifted to “dangerous weights.” This came after an article in the The Journal of the American Medical Association, written by University of Rochester Professor Emeritus, Dr. Thomas R. Knapp. Dr. Knapp’s webpage can be found here.

The Ideal Weight is Based on Oversimplifying Inconsistent data

  • Most ideal weight calculations are based on the positive correlation between being underweight/overweight and mortality. These correlations are simplified to suggest an ideal weight based on height, which can be easily debated.
  • Standard conversions for height/weight are inconsistent and most of the data is not “clean” enough for comparison. For instance, some studies don’t ask patients to remove clothing before measuring weight, which adds an initial layer uncertainty to the data.
  • Large, representative data sets for men and women, measured periodically for age, weight, and height are hard to come by.

Instead of focusing on the ideal weight, Dr. Knapp suggested avoiding the “dangerous zones,” which can vary from person to person. Read the full article for a more in depth discussion.