Normal weight in women: definition & explanations

Normalgewicht bei Frauen: Definition & Erklärungen

The goal of a diet is often to achieve a normal weight. Others want to know if their weight is even normal or not. But what is a normal weight for women? And how can you find out whether your own weight corresponds to a normal value?

In this article you will find out what you should know about normal weight in women. We have put together a definition of the term normal weight and some background information. We'll also explain how you can calculate whether your weight is roughly in a normal, healthy range.

the essentials in brief

  • Normal weight is the range of possible body weights that are considered healthy. It is then neither underweight nor overweight.
  • When assessing whether a weight is normal and healthy, it is not just the kilograms that count, but also the proportions of body fat and muscles, as well as height.
  • The most common measures used to classify weight are body mass index (BMI) and hip-to-waist ratio (WHR). Each dimension involves slightly different components.

Glossary entry: The term normal weight explained in detail

Anyone who deals with the normal weight of women quickly encounters many ambiguities. From how normal weight is calculated and what it means, to why it is even important to define a normal weight - we have collected and answered the most important of these questions.

What is the normal weight for women?

The normal weight describes the range of possible body weights at which one is neither underweight nor overweight. The normal weight is therefore a range in which the body weight assumes a healthy level.

Normal weight describes the healthy range of possible body weights in which one is neither overweight nor underweight.

The proportion of fat in the body is decisive for health. This is why the normal weight for women is in a slightly different range than for men, since the composition of muscle and fat tissue is slightly different.

However, exact values ​​cannot be given for a normal weight. Because the weight that is healthy for one woman might be too much or too little for another. That depends a lot on your body size. For this reason, the normal weight is only given in connection with other reference dimensions.

How to calculate the normal weight in women?

There is no uniform calculation for normal weight in women, nor is there an exact indication of weight. Instead, there are some common measures that can be used to make statements about healthy weight, fat distribution or weight-related disease risks.

The most common measure to assess whether body weight is within the normal range is BMI. We would like to briefly explain this and other dimensions to you below.


The abbreviation BMI stands for Body Mass Index and describes the relationship between weight and height. (1) The measure is used equally for every age group and every gender and can also be determined quickly by laypeople.

Woman measures the waist circumference

BMI takes height into account and compares it to weight. With a long measuring tape or folding rule and a scale, the BMI can easily be determined by yourself. (Image source: pixabay / mojzagrebinfo)

BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. The formula is therefore: kg/m².

For example, if you weigh 60 kg and are 1.65 m tall, you would divide 60 by 1.65 m squared (i.e. 2.7225 m²). Your BMI value would therefore be 22.04.

To determine whether the BMI values ​​are within the normal range, the following classification applies: (1)

BMI value Meaning
Under 16.5 severely underweight
16.5 - 18.4 underweight
18.5 - 24.9 normal weight
25 - 29.9 overweight
Over 30 obesity

However, the BMI as a measure also has its limitations and flaws.

For example, the classification into underweight - normal - overweight does not work for everyone according to the guide values ​​from the table. In the case of extreme athletes or bodybuilders, the calculation of the BMI would usually result in being overweight. In this group of people, it is not harmful accumulations of fat that trigger the increased body weight, but the heavily trained muscle mass.

Body mass composition is not included in BMI.

In general, the biggest criticism of BMI as a measure of health is that it doesn't take into account body mass composition. (2) As you can see from the example of the bodybuilder, a high weight does not mean that the person is actually overweight - but the BMI cannot record what components make up the weight.

Also, the relationship between BMI and percentage of body fat is non-linear and different for women and men.

These guideline values ​​also provide incorrect classifications for pregnant or breastfeeding women and for the elderly. In pregnant women, of course, the extra weight of the baby distorts the values. And for seniors, some scientists argue that the boundaries of what should be considered normal are no longer so clear-cut. (3)

Of course, the BMI also provides a few advantages, otherwise it would not be such a common measurement. On the one hand, the BMI can be determined quickly yourself - if you know the weight and height, the BMI can be calculated quickly. The guide values ​​are also easy to find online, so anyone can easily check if they are close to being in the healthy weight range.

Although BMI has disadvantages, it is a simple and easy-to-calculate measure of whether your body weight is within a healthy range.

And although there are so many criticisms of the BMI, it seems that it at least tends to provide the right estimates. For example, according to some studies, there is a connection between a BMI in the normal range and a long life expectancy. BMI values ​​that are too low or too high, on the other hand, are associated with an increased risk of illness and death. (4)

Overall, it can be said that the BMI can in most cases be used to make an initial rough estimate of whether your own weight is within the normal range. For more precise statements, however, it does not hurt to also take other measurements of normal weight into account.


Another popular measure of normal weight is the waist-to-hip ratio, or WHR for short. The term means "waist to hip ratio". The WHR is considered a good measure of normal weight because it can assess the distribution of fat in the body.

This is important because not all types of fat are the same. If fat deposits accumulate on the legs or buttocks, this is nowhere near as dangerous to your health as fat on your stomach. While the fat is deposited directly under the skin in most parts of the body, the fat on the abdomen is deposited around the internal organs. From there it can form messenger substances that can be harmful to health. (5)

Fat accumulations on the stomach can be more dangerous than fat on the hips or legs.

The WHR indicates how much fat has formed on the abdomen compared to the hips. Because even if the legs and other parts of the body should be slim, accumulated fat on the stomach can be dangerous. (6)

The waist-to-hip ratio is calculated by dividing the waist measurement by the hip measurement. You should measure your waist at the level of the navel and your hips at the widest point. This works best with a flexible measuring tape.

Green smoothie

To measure the waist circumference, it is best to place the measuring tape at the height of the navel. The hips are measured at the widest point. (Image source: pixabay / Deedee86)

The value obtained by dividing waist measurement by hip measurement is better the smaller it is. Because large values ​​indicate that there is more fat on the stomach than on the hips. A value of 0.8 or less is considered a normal weight for women.

The WHR considers a normal weight for women to be less than 0.8.

Of course, the WHR does not always work as the only measure. Women who have accumulated a lot of fat on both the hips and abdomen can achieve a relatively low value, although they are clearly in the overweight range.

However, the WHR is considered a good predictor of the risk of suffering from an obesity-related disease. (7) In medicine, this measure is therefore often recorded in addition to the BMI.

If the WHR is calculated in addition to the BMI, even non-professionals can assess whether they have a normal weight with a healthy distribution of fat.

Other dimensions

Some other measurements are used to classify body weight. For example, this can be:

  • The Broca index : With this fairly simple measure, you simply subtract 100 cm from your height in cm. (8) For a woman who is 1.65 m tall, the formula would be: 165 – 100 = 65. This woman would have a normal weight of 65 kg. The advantage of this measure is that it is easy to calculate. The disadvantage, however, is that it provides an exact value and the normal weight should actually have a certain range. Also, like BMI, it doesn't take fat distribution into account.
  • The waist circumference : The waist circumference is already part of the measurement of the WHR. But even without dividing by hip circumference, certain statements can be made about the normal weight of women. A waist circumference of 88 cm is still considered normal weight for women. Values ​​greater than 88 cm are counted in the overweight range. (1) However, body size is neglected here.
  • Miscellaneous : In the medical field in particular, there are even more ways of distinguishing between underweight, normal weight and overweight. For example, the thickness of the skin folds on the abdomen can also be measured. (9) An exact determination of the body fat percentage is also possible. However, these methods cannot be carried out by laypeople at home.

Depending on which measure you use, the proportion of normal-weight women in the total population differs. (9) So you can see that the dimensions are all slightly different.

Why is a normal weight defined?

The reason that you need an approximate value for a normal weight is medical. Being underweight and overweight can have health-damaging consequences, which one would like to counteract at an early stage.

The consequences of obesity in particular affect many sections of the population. For example, people who are overweight are more susceptible to type 2 diabetes, heart and liver diseases, sleep apnea and metabolic diseases. (1)

Being underweight can lead to a weakened metabolism, reduced blood pressure and increased fatigue. (10) In extreme cases, severely underweight women can even become infertile. In addition, being underweight is often associated with mental disorders, or a consequence thereof.

What is the difference to the ideal weight for women?

While the normal weight describes a range in which a healthy body weight lies, the ideal weight usually means the approximate weight that a woman defines as desirable for herself. Some women feel more comfortable with more weight, others with less.

The ideal weight is usually shaped by social expectations and ideals of beauty. Nowadays, the idea of ​​a particularly slim body has a major impact on the ideal weight of many women.

However, the ideal weight does not have to be in the range of normal weight. Beauty ideals such as extreme slimness often even lead to an ideal weight in the health-endangering underweight spectrum.

How can I reach or maintain a normal weight?

As is so often the case in the health sector, a balanced diet and sufficient exercise are helpful. If you want to maintain a weight you achieved on a diet, be careful not to just go back to eating like you did before the diet.

Otherwise a yo-yo effect can occur. The bottom line is that you could weigh more after the diet than before. (11) Therefore it is important to choose a healthy type of diet.

Healthy eating

A healthy diet is an important aspect of achieving or maintaining a normal weight. Sufficient exercise should not be neglected. (Image source: pixabay /marijana1)

If you find that you are overweight, it is best to consult a nutritionist. There, experts can give you sports and nutrition tips that are right for you. The same goes for being underweight.


In summary, it can be said that the normal weight of women depends on their body size as well as on the composition of fat and muscle mass. The unhealthy fat is usually on the stomach, which is why the waist circumference is a good measure to assess whether your own weight is in the healthy range.

Other measurements are, for example, the body mass index or the waist-to-hip ratio. Both dimensions can be easily calculated and give values ​​that make statements about whether the weight is in the normal range.

If you find yourself underweight or overweight, this can have health-damaging consequences. Therefore, you should make sure that you achieve or maintain a normal weight with sufficient exercise and a healthy diet.


  1. Connor Weir, Arif Jan: BMI Classification Percentile And Cut Off Points. 2020 Jul 10. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020
  2. Rothman, KJ.: BMI-related errors in the measurement of obesity. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Aug;32 Suppl 3:S56-9. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2008.87.
  3. Leon Flicker, PhD; Kieran A McCaul, PhD; Graeme J. Hankey, MD; Konrad Jamrozik, PhD; Wendy J Brown, PhD; Julie E Byles, PhD; Osvaldo P. Almeida, PhD: Body Mass Index and Survival in Men and Women Aged 70 to 75, in: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 58(2): 234-241, 2010.
  4. Bhaskaran K, Dos-Santos-Silva I, Leon DA, Douglas IJ, Smeeth L. Association of BMI with overall and cause-specific mortality: a population-based cohort study of 3 6 million adults in the UK. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2018 Dec;6(12):944-953. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(18)30288-2. Epub 2018 Oct 30. PMID: 30389323; PMCID: PMC6249991.
  5. dr Martina Melzer: Why belly fat is unhealthy, in:, updated on January 10th, 2018.
  6. Sahakyan KR, Somers VK, Rodriguez-Escudero JP, Hodge DO, Carter RE, Sochor O, Coutinho T, Jensen MD, Roger VL, Singh P, Lopez-Jimenez F. Normal-Weight Central Obesity: Implications for Total and Cardiovascular Mortality. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Dec 1;163(11):827-35. doi: 10.7326/M14-2525. Epub 2015 Nov 10. PMID: 26551006; PMCID: PMC4995595.
  7. Wu PS, Jordan SW, Hodson T, Chao AH. Waist-to-hip ratio is a better predictor than body mass index for morbidity in abdominally based breast
  8. Laurent I, Astère M, Paul B, Liliane N, Li Y, Cheng Q, Li Q, Xiao X. The use of Broca index to assess cut-off points for overweight in adults: A short review. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2020 Jun 3. doi: 10.1007/s11154-020-09566-5. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32495251.
  9. Duggleby SL, Jackson AA, Godfrey KM, Robinson SM, Inskip HM; Southampton Women's Survey Study Group. Cut-off points for anthropometric indices of adiposity: differential classification in a large population of young women. Br J Nutr. 2009 Feb;101(3):424-30. doi: 10.1017/S0007114508012245. Epub 2008 Jul 18. PMID: 18634708; PMCID: PMC4579544.
  10. Prof. Dr. C. Mehler-Wex: Consequences of being underweight, Hemera Clinic website
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