What is a healthy weight for me?

Keeping to a healthy weight reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Managing your weight can also reduce the risk of developing certain cancer types and the risk of some cancers coming back.

You can work out your healthy weight by calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index). You can do this on the NHS Choices website.

Your BMI enables you to see if you are overweight or underweight:

  • Less than 18.5 is underweight.
  • Between 18.5 and 24.9 is a healthy weight.
  • Between 25 and 29.9 is overweight.
  • A BMI over 30 is obese.

The results of the BMI are interpreted differently in older people and in people from South Asia. Measuring your waist can also help you determine if you’re above your healthy weight.

If you are overweight it’s a good idea to try to lose weight gradually. Aim to lose between 0.5 and 1 kg (1–2lbs) each week. Your doctor and dietitian can advise and support you.

Benefits of being a healthy weight

Keeping to a healthy weight and being more physically active will help you feel stronger, have more energy and boost your self-esteem. It reduces the risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It may also reduce the risk of developing some cancers and 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.

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 will work out your BMI for you.

There’s also a BMI calculator available on the NHS Choices website:

  • 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 over 30 is obese (well above the healthy weight range for your height)
  • A BMI over 40 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 a good guide to a healthy 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).

Setting a target for weight loss

It’s important to be realistic about how much weight you want to lose and over how long. 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) per 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 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 easily, you can see your doctor, nurse or dietitian to set a new one.

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