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Does healthy weight differ in men and women?

Have you ever asked yourself why weight loss recommendations are the same for men and women? You may have noticed that the different body mass index ranges for men and women. At such a point you are not at fault if you asked yourself if healthy weight differs in men and women.

The simple answer to this question is yes. Healthy body weight significantly differs in men and women. You could find a man and woman who are of the same age and height but have significantly different body weights. Even more, you could find both of them considered healthy with their different body weights.

A 2013 research by Shriver et al shows that growing up, girls are always more conscious about how their body weight affects their appearance than boys. You will find young girls comparing their bodies to television models and hoping to stick to similar body shapes since that is how society has perceived an ideal body shape and weight in women. In the recent past young boys have started admiring V-shaped body types and have grown into adulthood trying to attain such looks. 

Some aspects that build up to why there is a significant gender difference in weight and the subsequent healthy weight differing in men and women are explained below. 

Factors that explain the gender differences in weight

The sex chromosome

As much as it is not fully proven as to how the sex chromosomes in males and women affect the gender difference in a healthy weight, there is no doubt that the slight otherwise ignored difference in their sex chromosomes has a key role to play.

Men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome while females have two X chromosomes. The difference in the composition of the sex chromosomes in males and women according to Xu et al could significantly explain why healthy weight in men is different from that in women. 

The sex hormone

The difference in sex hormone in males and females also explain the gender difference in weight.

Testosterone is the major sex hormone in males while progesterone and estrogen hormones are is the major sex hormone in women.

Women generally have more 6 t0 11 percent body fat than men. In 2009, a University of New South Wales research reported that estrogen hormone is responsible for the significant difference in body fat in males and females. 

The research study reported that more body fat in women is associated with the estrogen hormone which reduces a woman’s ability to burn energy after eating, resulting in more fat being stored around the body.

Although the research found that estrogen is associated with the postprandial fatty acid oxidation that otherwise leads to fat accumulation in women offering evolutionary benefit especially during pregnancy and childbearing, no established findings have been reported to explain why some women are obese. 

The Body Mass Index

The ratio of weight to height is known as the body mass index often denoted as BMI. The units are denoted in kg per square meter, that is the body mass of someone divided by their square height in meters. 

The BMI varies according to gender. The BMI is used as a measure of how healthy adult weight is. 

Table 1 below shows the BMI ranges for men and women. 

Table 2 shows the BMI ranges of adults that dictate how healthy their weights are.

BMI of Adults Ages 20 and Older
18.5 to 24.9Normal weight
25 to 29.9Overweight
30+Obesity (including extreme obesity)
40+Extreme obesity

As much as table 2 has rather a rather generalized BMI range that applies to men and women, there is still a gender difference when it comes to really determine healthy weights. 

Differences in the perception of overweight and obesity in men and women

Men and women perceive being overweight and obese differently. It is sad that society has contributed to such by making women feel like they need to have an attractive body image and shape more than men. Men on the other hand do not really care about their body image at such because after all, they are not women to bother.

A recent research study by Zhang et al established that obesity affects health-related quality of life established that there is a critical difference by gender. For example, the study reported that in women, obesity is negatively perceived and associated with health-related quality of life while in men such an association is positive but not statistically different. 

In most cases, women focus on losing weight although it is relatively hard for them to do that compared to men. Men, on the other hand, have no issue with losing weight because their body composition allows them to lose weight if they follow scheduled workouts and eat healthily. This is supported by Dr. James Stubbs, a research specialist for Slimming World who said “Although women diet more frequently, men are actually more likely to succeed.” 

Weight dissatisfaction is predominantly common in women than men. For example, an article by Tsai et al that examined the gender differences in weight-related outcomes across the body mass index (BMI) in overweight and obese adults. Tsai et al examined accurate weight perception, weight dissatisfaction, attempted weight loss, successful weight loss, and weight loss strategies. The findings reported that overweight and obese men were less likely to have accurate weight perception, weight dissatisfaction, and attempted weight loss compared to women. This article presented that overweight and obese women, therefore, are cautious of their weight and attempted weight loss. 

Similar to weight perceptions in men and women, other research studies have found that women often join weight loss programs, follow special diets, and even take pills. If you compared these strategies to men, you notice that men opt for less eating but more exercising which does not necessarily mean joining special weight loss programs and the like. 

Why do women care more about their weight than men?

Women care more about their weight than men for several reasons such as:


Women always want to gain a sense of acceptance in new and existing relationships, especially with men. It is common to find a woman being encouraged to lose weight to get into shape so that they can firmly fit in their wedding gowns for example. 

Women always want to look very good to their significant other- and that means they can even opt for diet pills and special weight loss programs to achieve that.

Body image and social media expectations

With social media gaining much influence in the recent past, it is common to find young and older women wanting to have an ideal body image similar to their favorite celebrity. In most cases, overweight and obese women are less “appealing” in the social media limelight and this makes women even more conscious about their weight and to meet societal expectations. 

Diseases associated with being overweight and obese

You are certain to find women bothering so much about their body mass index (BMI) and how it relates to their health outcome than men. Women naturally have health-seeking behaviors and always want to stay in a healthy weight state.

Unlike men who more or less do not seek medical guidance, women are aware of the many effects of obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure. They, therefore, strive to keep their body fat in check while trying to keep fit- even if it is generally hard to lose weight. 

Final Thoughts

Healthy weight is different in men and women. Women have more body fat than men and are more careful with weight loss than men.

The programs for weight loss in men and women are relatively the same. However, women tend to use diet pills, join special weight loss programs while men prefer cutting down on their eating habits and exercising more.

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