Do I need to lose weight? If you’re not sure of the answer to this question then work out your BMI (body-mass-index) and waist circumference. These measures indicate if you are a healthy weight or not.
What’s my BMI?
Your BMI is a number that tells you if you are a healthy weight for your height. We should all aim to have a BMI between 18.5 – 24.9 kg/m2 which is considered to be healthy. Having a healthy BMI is important to reduce the risk of health conditions associated with being overweight eg: Type 2 Diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease and certain types of cancer.
How to calculate your BMI:
1. Measure your weight in kilograms (kg) and height in metres (m)
2. Get your calculator at the ready
3. Type in your weight (kg) and divide by your height (m), divide this answer by your height (m) again
4. Check your BMI with the table below to see which BMI range you fall in to.
If a person weighs 75kg and is 1.80m tall, their BMI would be 23.1kg/m2.
75 ÷ 1.80 = 41.6 → 41.6 ÷ 1.80 = 23.1 → BMI = 23.1kg/m2
|Below 18.5 kg/m2||Underweight||Weight loss is not advised|
|Between 18.5-24.9 kg/m2||Healthy weight||Weight loss is a personal choice|
|Between 25-29.9 kg/m2||Overweight||Weight loss is advised|
|Over 30 kg/m2||Obese||Weight loss is advised|
Waist circumference is also a good indicator to understand if we need to lose weight. This is because the risk of getting some health conditions is affected by where we store fat. Carrying too much fat around your middle will further increase the risk of developing weight-related health conditions.
To measure your waist circumference, find the top of your hips and the bottom of your ribs. Wrap a tape measure midway between these points, around your waist. Don’t forget to breathe out naturally when taking the measurement! Waist circumference risk indicators are different for men and women, and it is also influenced by ethnicity. The guidance for people of white European, black African, Middle Eastern and mixed origin is:
- Men with a waist circumference greater than 94 cm (37 inches) are at increased risk, more than 102 cm (40 inches) is classed as high risk
- Women with a waist circumference greater than 80 cm (31.6 inches) are at increased risk, more than 88 cm (34.5 inches) are at high risk
For people from African Caribbean, South Asian, Chinese and Japanese origin the guidance is stricter. Biologically these groups tend to store more fat around their middle (waist) which can increase the risk of developing health problems. The guidance for these groups is:
- Men with a waist circumference greater than 90 cm (35.4 inches) are at very high risk (there is no increased or high risk category)
- Women with a waist circumference greater than 80 cm (31.5 inches) are at very high risk (there is no increased or high risk category)
What’s a realistic weight loss goal?
Now you know if you need to lose weight, how much do you need to lose? When you are ready to embark on a weight loss journey it is important to set yourself a realistic goal to monitor your progress. If overweight or obese losing just 5-10% of your body weight can provide significant health benefits. As such we recommend starting with this as your weight loss goal.
To work out 5% weight loss divide your weight by 20, to work out 10% weight loss divide your weight by 10. For example: If someone weighs 80kg then 5% weight loss (80 ÷ 20 = 4kg), and 10% weight loss (80 ÷ 10 = 8kg).
To meet your weight loss goal we advise aiming for a steady weight loss of 0.5-1kg (1-2lbs) a week until you reach your target. A gradual weight loss is recommended as this is more achievable and sustainable. Anything or anyone that promises a large amount of weight loss in a short amount of time is simply not realistic – if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is!