What is a healthy weight for me?

After cancer treatment, many people want to make positive changes to their lives. Taking steps to lead a healthy lifestyle is often a major part of these changes.

Keeping to a healthy weight and being more physically active will help you feel stronger, give you more energy and boost your self-esteem. Being a healthy weight reduces the risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It 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.

There’s lots of information about eating well during and after cancer treatment, including several videos.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body mass index (BMI) is a way of measuring if 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 which weight category you are in:

  • A BMI of 18.5 or lower 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. Talk to your doctor or nurse about your BMI before you set a target for losing weight.

The chart below gives a guide to healthy weight. Find the line that matches your weight and follow it until it crosses the one that matches your height. Speak to your GP or nurse if you are above the ‘healthy’ range.

BMI chart
BMI chart

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Waist measurement

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:

  • for women is less than 80cm (31½in).
  • for men is less than 94cm (37in).
  • for men of South Asian origin is less than 90cm (35in).

Back to Managing weight gain

Managing your diet

Knowing about the different food types can help you manage your diet, reduce your calorie intake and lose weight.

Tips for losing weight

Changing your eating habits, reducing portion sizes, and taking care when eating out can all help you manage your weight

Healthy eating ideas

We have put together some ideas for a week’s worth of healthy meals and snacks 

Weight gain and cancer

Some cancer treatments, side effects or even lifestyle changes can cause weight gain.