What is a healthy weight for me?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a way of measuring whether you’re a healthy weight for your height. Your GP or practice nurse can work out your BMI for you.
There’s also a BMI calculator available on the World Cancer Research Fund website. Your BMI score will show what weight category you are in:
A BMI less than 18.5 is underweight.
A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is a healthy weight.
A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight.
A BMI of 30 or higher is obese (well above the healthy weight range for your height).
A BMI of 40 or higher is very obese.
BMI results are interpreted differently in older people and people of South Asian origin. So talk to your doctor or nurse before you set a target for losing weight.
You can use the chart below to check your BMI. Find the line that matches your weight and follow it until it crosses the line that matches your height. Speak to your GP or nurse if you are above or below the ‘healthy’ range.
Your waist measurement is another good guide to your weight. People who have a lot of fat around their waist have a higher risk of health problems. Measure your waist by placing a tape measure halfway between your lowest rib and the top of your hip bone. A healthy waist measurement is:
less than 80cm (31½in) for women
less than 94cm (37in) for men
less than 90cm (35in) for men of South Asian origin.
Setting a target for weight loss
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It’s important to be realistic about how much weight you want to lose and over how much time. Even losing 5–10% of your current weight will have health benefits for you. Try to aim for a maximum weight loss of about 0.5–1kg (1–2lbs) a week.
If you lose weight gradually, you’re more likely to reach and stay at a healthy weight. Most people put on weight over several months or longer, so the time to reach your target weight should be roughly the same.
To monitor your weight loss, weigh yourself weekly at the same time of day and use the same scales. If you find it difficult to get to your target, or if you reach it very easily, talk to your doctor, nurse or dietitian about setting a new one.
Benefits of being a healthy weight
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Keeping to a healthy weight and being more physically active will help you feel stronger, have more energy and boost your self-esteem. They reduce the risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. They may also reduce the risk of developing some cancers and reduce the risk of certain cancers coming back. Your cancer doctor or nurse can tell you more about this.
Choosing to eat healthily is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall health. You get even more benefits if you combine it with being more physically active. Making positive lifestyle choices can also give you back a sense of control by helping you focus on what you can do for yourself.