What's a healthy weight?

Assessing the potential health risks of your current weight

Worried about your weight and whether it's affecting your health? Find out how to assess whether you are a healthy weight so you are not putting yourself in the 'obese' category or worse.

Roughly one in five of us is heavy enough to be putting our health at risk. There are several very easy ways of assessing whether your current weight or body shape is likely to affect your health, including calculating your body weight to height ratio, your Body Mass Index (BMI) and checking your waist size.

Body weight to height ratio

Use the chart below to depict your bodyweight to height ratio and assess the potential risk to your health.

BMI chart
 

What’s your Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Your BMI is one of the main ways of finding out if your weight is putting your health at risk.

To manually calculate your BMI, divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in inches), then divide this outcome by your height again. It is generally thought that, for the average adult, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.

Measure your waist

Carrying too much weight around your middle increases your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. We often refer to people who carry excess weight around their middle as ‘apple-shaped’ and those who carry more weight around their hips and thighs as ‘pear-shaped’. People who are more apple-shaped have greater health risks than those who are pear-shaped.

Use the table below to see if your health is at risk

Waist measurement for Increased risk High risk
Men 94cm (37in) 102cm (40in)
Asian men 90cm (36in)  
Women 80cm (32in) 88cm (35in)

If you are at increased risk it is important to stop and think about your waist size. Changing your food intake will help, as would becoming more active.

If you are trying to lose weight it is important to be realistic and expect no more than a loss of one to two pounds (half to one kilo) a week.

Comments (16)

  • Lady_K 'Sometimes these things can be misleading - when i was training more - my weight soared as lean tissue weighs more, and i actually hit the obese field! I am a bit chunky but no way obese!'

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  • PaulRitchie2 ' Crikes, I never thought of myself as obese but am approaching the overweight set according to the BMI. Think those lunch-time crisps must be catching up with me - and the chocolate - and the Friday night beers. Get off your behind boy! '

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  • sallygray2 'i try not to concentrate on weight as muscle mass can increase this. My BMI is 18/19 and a little low but here's the problem: According to those waist hip ratios i should lose weight. i am basically completely straight and have no hips or waist. My waist is 29 inch and my hips are 33 inch which puts my ratio at 0.88 above the recommended 0.85. it tells me i should lose weight. I would love a nipped in waist and bigger hips but if weight comes off it dont come from the waist!! My arms and legs are skinny. If weight goes on it goes on waist and not hips or arms legs!!If i lose any weight i look gaunt. i am 5 foot 7 and half inch and weigh 8 stone 8 lb. I do feel a bit like a freak when the hip waist ratio programs keep telling me to exercise and lose weight. What should i be doing?'

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  • Mr_Finknottle 'I wonder if those dreadful 'ready meals' are in any way to blame, even the so-called 'healthy living' ones (yes Mr/Mrs Tesco, you), or any other supermarket for that matter. There was a recent TV programme about two families who swapped lifestyles over cooking and the ones who ate ready meals suffered as regards sporting prowess. Any comments, anyone?'

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  • sarahchalmers 'I always come out as obese, but I eat health foods, no prepackaged ready meals at all just fresh fish, fresh veg, organic chicken etc, run three times a week, go to the gym twice a week and have a low rest heartrate and according to my doctor I am very fit and very health, I think all these weight height ratios are mis-leading and do not always reflect the truth. I have large muscles, especially my legs, but I am not flabby at all.'

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  • juliecwalsh 'Hello, I've been running for about six months now, gradullay building upto about 7 k 4 times a week. I started as i wnted to loose a bit of weight (about half a stone). i don't think my food intake has changed and I am really enjoying the exercise, but I feel like I've actully gtot bigger and my clotthes are tighter!!! It doesn't seem right. Ehat am i doing wrong!'

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  • Kevinthomasmiller 'According to my BMI 30 (6ft and 16 stone) i am obese, but according to my resting heart rate (50 bpm) i am in the athlete category. Who is right?'

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  • alijwhelan 'I have just spent the last year and a bit losing approx 2 stone. I have 9.5 LBs to lose to hit my target but now I have upped the running levels, I have actually started to put a little weight back on, even following the diet! My diet consultant says this will level off and I will start losing again once my body is used to the change. - we shall see. I'm not too worried by this as I'm sure it'll all work out in the long run - as long as I am feeling better, that's the main thing. The diet (by the way) is not a faddy, silly one, it's based on eating as much fresh fruit and veg as you wish and then is based on the food combining idea of limiting mixes on Carbs and Protein. It has worked really well for me and allows me to eat loads!! especially carbs which I find good with the running.'

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  • Jane_Cox 'I've just read the comments posted by alijwhelan and am so glad to find that I'm not alone. I have also been following a food combing plan and have successfully lost weight, and likewise have just increased my running training as I wish to compete in a 10k race in April. I thought the remaining half a stone would just fall off without too much difficulty, instead to my horror I've actually put on 4lb since Christmas!! I know I should be checking my measurements and not worrying too much about what the scales say - but having battled with my weight for so long now, it's really hard to relax about it.'

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  • digby8 'Having started in the very obese sector myself and now comfortably only obese... I would like to comment that we should consider any of these yardsticks in context. If we are honest with ourselves we can tell in the mirror if we are too heavy due to fatty tissue or if we are heavily built - after all a lot of body builders would come in the morbidly obese category. My way of motivating myself ( I have lost 2 / 2.5 stone ) is to consider my capability and clothes not weight or BMI. I.e. I used to wear 44 inch trousers, now 38 - I couldn't run 200 yards and I just finished a half marathon only taking a single 1 min walk break at 12 miles. Therefore I think I have improved, and justifiably so - I have a goal to fit into 34 inch trousers and to run a marathon non-stop and when I do I will be (hopefully) celebrating a great achievement. But I will still likely be approx 2-3 stone above what my doctor wants me to be. BMI is a measurement suitable for many to monitor their weight, it is however flawed as the comments all indicate. There has been a lot of research to create the scale and the zone separators which make the scale suitable for the majority of people - not everyone. So common sense must prevail.'

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  • micha 'Totally agree with digby8. Used to barely fit in 38 inch jeans, now I fit comfortably in 32 inch jeans. Specially if you train weights as well, you will gain weight. I couldn't run (at all) so digby8 was way ahead. I can now run as far as my knee allows me to go, which varies sometimes. Scales and bmi index are directions, but everybody recognizes fat vs muscle. And if your clothes, suddenly don't fit, unless they visibly shrunk, you grew. My bmi says my healthy weight is between 56 kg (8.8 stone) and 80 (12.6 stone) kg. If I would reach 59 kg, i'll be looking like a zombie, if i reach 75 kg, i look like a zombie with weight. '

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  • sylvia 'I'm 4f 11" so the chart don't work for me. I don't like using the chart anyway because if you have more muscle then the average person it will put you down as over weight!!'

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  • 5099peperk 'I have been reading all the comments about the BMI saying they are obese when they are not. I actually did a study on this in university, and yes the BMI is flawed for todays athletes. This was created a long time ago when people were not building muscle, therefore this does not taki into account muscle mass, only fat. This therefore should just be a quideline for those who are not super active and building muscle! Hope this helps!'

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  • NYCgirl 'I dont think you can always go by the BMI chart. Im short and weigh just over 8 and a half stone so according to the BMI chart I am ok, nearly falling into the overweight bracket. I go to the gym, run lots and eat healthily. My clothes size is an 8/10 and i would not be classed as overweight in the slightest. I do alot of toning exercises and have more muscle than fat. '

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  • emmteeyess 'My weight seems to be stuck there - so the answer will be to grow 6" taller! Simples. Cheers, MTS'

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  • MrDT 'Reading through these comments I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who takes these BMI stats with a pinch of salt. I recently blogged about this subject here on realbuzz (http://www.realbuzz.com/blogs/u/MrDT/fitness-diary/posts/bmi-weight/) - if I were towards the lighter side of 'OK' I would in reality be extremely unwell. One size does not fit all! '

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