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You can judge what the right weight is for you by measuring your waist, by calculating your body mass index or by considering the average weight for your height.
Your waist measurement is a good guide to a healthy weight. People who have a lot of fat around their waist have a higher risk of ill health. Measure your waist by placing a tape measure two finger breadths above your belly button and breathing out naturally. For all women, a waist size larger than 80cm (31½in) is high. For men, a waist size larger than 94cm (37in) is high; for men of South Asian origin, it’s 90cm (35in).
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of healthy weight that is often used in weight control programmes. It’s based on the relationship between your height and your weight. Your GP or practice nurse can work out your BMI for you. Alternatively, a BMI calculator is available on the NHS Choices website|. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight, over 30 is obese (well above the healthy weight range for your height) and over 40 is very obese. BMI results are interpreted differently in older people and people of South Asian origin. You should discuss your BMI with your doctor or nurse before setting a target for weight loss.
You can refer to this chart| to find a guide to healthy weight. Find the line that matches your weight and follow that line until it crosses the one that matches your height. Speak to your GP or nurse if you are above the ‘healthy’ range.
It's important to be realistic about how much weight you want to lose and over what period. A good weight loss target is to try to lose 5-10% of your current weight. This should involve a maximum weight loss of about 0.5-1kg (1-2lbs) per week.
People who lose weight gradually are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. Most people put on weight over several months or longer, so the timescale to achieve your weight loss should be similar. To monitor your weight loss, weigh yourself once a week at about the same time of day and try to use the same scales each time. If you find you achieve your target easily, you can always make an appointment with your nurse, GP or dietitian to set a new one.
Content last reviewed: 1 April 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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