What Is the Average Weight for Women?

Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Reviewed by Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Written by Lauren Panoff

Published 04/24/2024

The average American woman weighs about 170 pounds and stands about 5 feet, 4 inches tall. But it’s important to remember that these averages are mathematical calculations and don’t necessarily represent what’s typical or healthy for someone like you. 

There are so many factors that make our bodies unique — our size, our shape, our proportions — that averages don’t really do us much good. Plus, comparing ourselves to others is rarely helpful and often leads to all sorts of negative self-talk. 

That said, your weight does have a direct impact on your health. Which is why measurements like body mass index (BMI) can be useful in determining your risk of developing weight-related health problems, like type 2 diabetes.   

Keep reading to learn more about factors that influence women’s weight, like age, height and activity level.  

American women tend to weigh more than women in other parts of the world. There are many reasons for this, such as dietary choices, cultural norms, and socioeconomic factors that influence food accessibility.

The average body weight of women in America has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. 

According to national surveys, about 42 percent of U.S. women have obesity and an additional 27 percent are overweight.

Though the U.S. may be leading the charge, 1 in 8 adults around the world now live with obesity. And many more (43 percent) are overweight.  

Percent of Women Who Are Overweight in 2022 (By Region)

Western Pacific (China, Japan, Australia, more) — 33.5%
South-East Asia (India, Indonesia, Thailand, more) — 35.1%
Africa — 36.2%
Europe — 56.3%
Eastern Mediterranean (Middle East, Northeast Africa) — 62.5%
The Americas — 68.7%

Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement used to assess a person’s body weight in relation to how tall they are. It’s calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters, squared. (kg/m2).

While not perfect, this simple calculation is used as a standard way to measure where you fall in comparison to “normal,” which in this context more or less means “healthy.” It’s intended to provide insight into your risk of developing certain weight-related chronic conditions.

The medical community uses BMI values to diagnose conditions like obesity. The standard weight categories include: 

  • Underweight: BMI of 18.5 or under

  • Normal weight: BMI under 25

  • Overweight: BMI under 30

  • Obesity: BMI of 30 or greater

BMI has limitations and may not accurately reflect your overall health or body composition. The measurement doesn’t take into account factors like body fat percentage, lean muscle mass, or physical fitness.

Note that at the same BMI, women tend to have more body fat than men and older women tend to have more body fat than younger women. Body composition can also differ between people of different races and ethnicities.

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Weight loss treatment that puts you first

Sometimes it feels like everything we do today has an impact on how our pants will fit next week. But things are rarely so simple. When it comes to our weight, there are a lot of factors at play. 

  • Hormones: Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels throughout the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can affect metabolism and weight regulation.

  • Genetics: Genes can influence body composition, where we tend to hang onto fat and even how quickly we burn calories. 

  • Nutrition: Eating habits, the nutritional quality of our diets, and portion sizes impact weight management.

  • Physical activity: Cardio and strength training affect calorie expenditure, muscle mass, and overall body composition.

  • Stress: Chronic stress can lead to emotional eating, hormonal imbalances, and changes in appetite.

  • Sleep: Poor sleep quality can disrupt hormone levels, metabolism, and appetite regulation.

  • Medical conditions: Certain conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), thyroid disorders, and insulin resistance can affect weight regulation in women.

  • Medications: Medications like antidepressants, birth control pills, and corticosteroids, may cause weight fluctuations.

  • Social and cultural factors: Our eating habits are partly shaped by societal norms, cultural attitudes towards food, and peer/familial influence.

  • Mental health: Emotional well-being, self-esteem, and coping mechanisms all play a role in weight maintenance.

Healthy weight management is a lifelong process. Your lifestyle habits are essential to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and reducing your risk of weight-related health problems like obesity and heart disease. So toss the weight chart in the trash and consider these tips instead.

Focus on Nutrients

Nutrition is one of the most important components of your overall health and wellness. Not only does a nutrient-rich diet provide the vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbs) you need, but it also supports healthy weight management. 

A few things to keep in mind: 

  • Eat mostly whole foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and other lean proteins. They provide an array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and they’re rich in fiber, which helps you feel full.

  • Avoid ultra-processed foods. Examples include soda, candy, and packaged snack foods. These tend to be high in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar. 

  • Focus on nutrients versus calories. Rather than being laser-focused on counting calories, we encourage you to put nutrients first. 

Get Better Sleep

Not getting enough sleep will wreck anyone, especially if it’s an ongoing problem. Did you know that sleep deprivation does more than just make you cranky? 
Lack of sleep makes us more prone to sugar cravings and mindless eating. 
Experts say adults should get seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. If you don’t normally sleep very well, try these tips to catch more Zzz’s:

  • Follow a consistent sleep-wake schedule.

  • Adopt a calming nighttime routine you can look forward to each evening.

  • Dress in breathable PJs and use comfy bedding.

  • Avoid screens close to bedtime, as the blue light can interfere with melatonin production and make it harder to fall asleep.

  • Use black-out curtains or a white noise machine

  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you have sleep apnea.

Move Your Body

Physical activity is important for supporting your overall health and achieving your weight goals. Regular exercise helps you burn extra calories, lose weight loss, and put on muscle.
For general health, experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise weekly, plus strength training twice per week. For weight loss goals, this increases to 200-300 minutes per week.
In addition to getting your steps in, here are a few things to try: 

  • Swimming

  • Biking

  • Jogging

  • Briskly walking

  • Doing martial arts

  • Playing basketball

  • Joining a group fitness class

  • High-intensity interval training

  • Using resistance bands, dumbbells, weight machines or bodyweight exercise 

Consider Weight Loss Medications

When daily lifestyle habits alone aren’t enough to promote weight loss, many people find success with weight loss medications. Intended to be used alongside a healthy diet and exercise, some of the most popular and effective weight loss medications include:

  • GLP-1 receptor agonists: These work by mimicking the effects of the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1, which regulates appetite and food intake. By activating GLP-1 receptors in your brain, GLP-1s help promote fullness, slow digestion, and may also decrease cravings. Examples include liraglutide (Saxenda®) and semaglutide (Wegovy® or Ozempic®). 

  • Metformin: Metformin is primarily used to improve blood sugar regulation in type 2 diabetes, but it may also support weight loss by decreasing appetite and reducing the absorption of glucose from food in the intestines. 

  • Contrave®: This is a combination of bupropion (an antidepressant and aid to quit smoking) and naltrexone (used for alcohol and opioid dependence). Bupropion helps reduce appetite and cravings, while naltrexone counteracts the effects of certain brain chemicals involved in food reward.

  • Topiramate: This is often used as an antiepileptic medication but can support weight loss by suppressing appetite and promoting feelings of fullness. It may also influence your brain's reward pathways, potentially reducing cravings for high-calorie foods.

If you’re interested in exploring weight loss medications, start by taking our free assessment. We can connect you with a licensed healthcare provider who can tell you more about our customized medication kits. 

Nurture Social Connections

We were never meant to do life alone, and this includes the journey to achieving a healthy weight. Social connections provide support, accountability, and encouragement. Research shows that people who have these types of networks experience better weight loss outcomes. 

Joining a group fitness community or jogging with friends builds a sense of community and encouragement, making it easier to stay committed to healthy habits. 
Having a strong social network can help provide outlets for healthier stress management. It’s also a place to share experiences, successes, and challenges with those on similar journeys. 

Drink More Water

Stay hydrated, primarily with plain water. Water is essential for health but also helps keep you fuller for longer. 

Try to sip on water throughout the day to keep cravings at bay. If your goal is weight loss, drink water right before or during meals to help promote fullness and prevent overeating. 
If you get tired of plain water, try these:

  • Plain seltzer water

  • Herbal tea

  • Water naturally flavored with cucumber, lemon slices, or raspberries and mint leaves

There’s no “ideal” weight calculation that encompasses every woman’s body type or health requirements. At the end of the day, health is more than a number on the scale. 
While unrealistic beauty standards and societal pressures are pervasive, that doesn’t mean we have to accept them as the norm when examining the optimal weight range for women.
If you’re on a mission to find the healthiest weight for you: 

  • Prioritize healthy everyday habits. This means improving sleep, staying hydrated, nourishing your social connections, boosting your nutrition, and moving your body regularly.

  • Seek outside support. Friends and family can be excellent support systems, but sometimes outside health experts can also be beneficial. Perhaps it makes sense for you to talk to a dietitian or connect with one of our licensed healthcare providers.

  • Focus on you. Weight management is personal. What’s most important is understanding your unique body.

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