To quickly estimate your healthy weight, you can use the following method. First, figure the median weight for your height by using the appropriate formula:

  • Men: 106 pounds for 5 feet, plus 6 pounds per inch over 5 feet or minus 6 pounds per inch under 5 feet.

  • Women: 100 pounds for 5 feet, plus 5 pounds per inch over 5 feet or minus 5 pounds per inch under 5 feet.

For example, if a man’s height is 6 feet, then his median weight is 178 pounds [106 + (6 x 12) = 178]. If a woman measures 5 feet and 5 inches, then her median weight is 125 pounds [100 + (5 x 5) = 125].

After you find your particular median weight number, you can calculate your healthy weight range. First, subtract 10 percent from your median weight (for the lower number in your healthy weight range) and then add 10 percent to your median weight (to find the higher number in your range).

Okay. Go back to that 6-foot man. Ten percent of 178 pounds is 18 pounds, so 178 pounds minus 18 is 160 pounds, and 178 pounds plus 18 pounds is 196. So the healthy weight range for a 6-foot man is between 160 and 196 pounds. As for the woman who measures in at 5 feet and 5 inches: her healthy weight range is 113 to 137 pounds.

For many years, weight charts were the only standards against which people compared themselves. Insurance companies, the publishers of these charts, emphasized an ideal weight as opposed to a healthy weight and held to different height and weight recommendations depending on age — one set of recommendations for ages 19 to 34 and another for ages 35 and older.

Later, the 1995 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans printed revised weight tables. An improvement over the age-based tables, the new tables indicated that a person’s healthy weight range was the same regardless of age. Experts realized that the 10 to 15 pounds that many people put on as they age, although common, aren’t healthy.