How to Find Your Healthy Body Weight

Best and Worst Diagnostic Tools

There are a variety of tools available to determine your body composition and, ultimately, arrive at your healthy body weight, including:

  • Body Fat Caliper: Results can be wildly inaccurate depending on the quality of the calipers (plastic or heavy-duty), number of body parts measured and skill of the person using the calipers.
  • Bio-electrical Impedance Scale: These devices, which send a safe electrical current through your body to determine fat percentage, are helpful but can give faulty readings if the subject is dehydrated or even in the midst of a menstruation cycle.
  • DEXA Scanner: Excellent, although expensive, means of determining body composition using X-ray technology in a doctor's office or other medical facility
  • Hydrodensitometry Test: Highly accurate tool to measure body fat by partially submerging the person in water and calculating displacement
  • Bod Pod: Relatively new tool that requires subject to sit in a chamber where air displacement, rather than water displacement is measured

All of these tools were designed on the premise that it's not just the amount of weight you carry -- although that's important -- but the type of weight that determines your health and quality of life, or risk of disease and premature death.

Trying to determine your healthy body weight is an admirable and necessary task, but it must be done with a focus on the composition of that weight, the best available tools and formulas, and an interpretation of the information that is based on your individual age, sex, shape and size.

Related Articles


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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Healthy Weight." Feb. 15, 2011. (June 20, 2011).
  • Cheryl D. Fryar, M.S.P.H., and Cynthia L. Ogden, Ph.D. "Prevalence of Underweight Among Adults." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 21, 2009. (June 20, 2011).
  • Flegal, Katherine M. , Ph.D.; Margaret D. Carroll, MSPH; Cynthia L. Ogden, Ph.D.; Lester R. Curtin, Ph.D. "Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008." Journal of the American Medical Association. Jan. 13, 2010. (June 20, 2011).
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