Healthy living * Weight loss

What's your Maximum Weight Limit?

new alternative to the BMI announced Simpler alternative to the BMI proposed

The Body Mass Index (BMI) has long been used as a way to compare people's weight given their height. It results in a single number which puts your body weight on a scale between underweight and obese.

But there are many criticisms of BMI, not the least of which is that the method used to calculate it is hard to remember and even harder to do (but you can always use our handy BMI calculator!). What's more, the actual BMI number is not easy to relate to your actual weight as it gives you a range rather than a single figure.

So now a new, simpler measurement has been proposed which is easier to calculate and which provides a "Maximum Weight Limit" (MWL) - i.e. a figure for your weight that you should aim never to exceed.

The inventor of the MWL, Professor George Fernandez, claims that it is easier to calculate and gives a result that closely follows the weight recommendations given by BMI charts.

As he is an American, the calculation is done using pounds - which is the standard unit for expressing weight in the US - and feet.

The system works as follows. There is a base height, one each for men and women. For men it is 5 feet 9 inches and for women it is 5 feet.

For men the base MWL is 175 pounds and for women it is 125 pounds. Then for each inch that your height is above or below the base height, add or subtract 5 pounds to the base MWL of 175 if you are a man and 4.5 pounds to the base of 125 if you are a woman.

So if you are a man of height 6 feet, this is 3 inches above the base height of 5 feet 9 inches, so your MWL would be 175 pounds PLUS 15 (3x5) pounds, or 190 pounds.

For a woman of 5 feet 4 inches, the MWL would be 125 pounds PLUS 18 (4x4.5) pounds, or 143 pounds.


Of course this makes sense in America where body weight is normally expressed as pounds. Here in the UK we tend to use stones and pounds, and of course in the metric system kilograms and metres are used. This will make the system more complicated.

So we have created an online WML calculator which you can use here. This will take your height in feet and inches, calculate your WML and compare it with your weight in stones and pounds.

Professor Fernandez, who is a professor at the University of Nevada, commented: "Now people can calculate their own Maximum Weight Limit, based on the BMI index, but without any calculators or charts.

"And all they have to remember is that one number, 185 pounds for example, which is easier for most people than retaining a weight range, such as 155 to 185 pounds.

"Anyone, anywhere can calculate their Maximum Weight Limit if they know their height and this simple formula," he said. "People can calculate this in their heads and remember this."

More information

You can get full details of the Maximum Weight Loss calculation at the offical web site :, and you can try out our simple calculator here.

This article was published on Mon 21 September 2009

Image © Knut Ekanger -

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