How do scientists determine the ideal weight (BMI)?

Take home message

HHS current recommendation for under age 65 is 19 -25, for 65 and over it is 25-27.


1832  Adolph Quetelet gathered information regarding the average man.  One of his conclusions that the best calculation for body type was the weight to height ratio (kg/m squared). 

1972  Ancel Keys collected data from 7,400 men in 5 countries, then decided Adolph's formula was the most helpful. He named it the body mass index (BMI). 

1972 - 2016  Scientists review correlations between height, weight, BMI, gender, age, diseases, and overall mortality. As they gather information, they made adjustments to what is considered the ideal BMI range. (See graph below)

This is exactly how science works. Scientists look at statistical probability, draw conclusions, and develop theories.  Then research moves forward, gathering more evidence, making adjustments, and fine tuning the conclusions.

For more information see the HHS BMI and weight chart

Changes in BMI studies related to age
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