Your weight

Your health can be affected by you lifestyle, we offer some guidelines below or you can talk to your GP or Nurse.

You can now self refer to the local ‘Step by Step’ weight loss programme if you are aged over 16 with a BMI of >30 – please ring 01244 650389.


Good health is about more than just your weight. It depends on many things, including your family’s medical history, your genes, whether you smoke, the type of food you eat and how active you are.

A combination of factors determines our weight, and that’s why it’s difficult to set an exact ideal weight that applies to everyone. It’s important to remember there’s a range of healthy body weights.

Aiming to keep within this means an end to aspiring to one magic weight you think you should be. Many people have a distorted perception of what constitutes a healthy body weight.

We’re surrounded by images of celebrities, many of whom are underweight. Comparing yourself with these images isn’t helpful. But comparing yourself to friends and family isn’t that useful either, because as obesity becomes more common our perception of ‘average’ weight may in fact be too heavy. It’s important to make an objective assessment of your size. Looking at yourself in the mirror isn’t a good way to assess whether you’re a healthy weight.

Waist / Hip Ratio

A simple guide you can do at home is to measure your waist-hip ratio while standing relaxed and naked. Measure your waist at its narrowest point. This is usually around your navel. Next, measure your hips at their widest point. Most often this is around the buttocks.

It’s important not to pull the tape tight when doing either of these measurements – let the tape rest on your skin.

Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. The figure you get from this calculation is your waist-hip ratio. For example, if your waist is 85cm (33in) and your hips are 100cm (39in), your waist-hip ratio is 0.85.

If you’re a man and your ratio is more than 1.0,, or a woman and your waist-hip ratio is more than 0.8, it means you’re an apple shape and at greater risk of health problems.

What’s wrong with underweight?

A number of underweight people are fit and well, they simply have a slender constitution. However, for many people being underweight means their bones aren’t as strong as they could be and they have fewer ‘reserves’ if they fall ill.

It can also affect a woman’s fertility.

If you’ve experienced recent and unintentional weight loss and you’re always tired, you should see your doctor in case there’s an underlying health problem.

If you consciously restrict how much you eat, and/or feel anxious about the thought of gaining weight, you may have an eating disorder and you should talk to your doctor.

Not weighing enough can put your health at risk. If you’re underweight because of a restriction of your diet, you’re at risk of a number of nutritional deficiencies. Young women especially are at risk of anaemia (a lack of iron), while insufficient calcium can lead to osteoporosis in later life.

Amenorrhoea (missing menstrual periods) is also common among women who are underweight, and it can lead to infertility.

Many things affect our health, but research has shown that people whose body weight is within a certain range tend to live the longest and enjoy the best health. Those who are underweight are below this range, which means their health could be at risk.

BMI – Body Mass Index

There are a number of ways you can work out if you’re within a healthy weight range. You need to get an accurate idea because it’s easy to underestimate or overestimate your own weight.

You can check your body size using the body mass index (BMI), which assesses your weight in relation to your height.

Healthcare professionals use BMI to determine whether a person is overweight. A significant drawback with BMI is that it doesn’t take into account a person’s body fat content, which is an indicator of the risk of future health.

Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared. The result you get is then classified into the following groups:


BMI less than 18.5


BMI 18.5 – 25.0


BMI 25.0 – 30.0


BMI 30 – 40

Very Obese

BMI over 40

This chart should not be used for children – please see the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information.

Losing weight

Losing weight depends on energy balance. If you consume more energy from food and drink than you burn through maintaining your body’s functions (metabolism) and physical activity, you’ll gain weight. Cutting calories by reducing how much you eat and drink, and increasing how much physical activity you do will make you lose weight. If you reduce your daily energy intake to around 500 calories (kcal) below your energy requirements, you’ll lose about 0.5kg (1lb) a week. This is a sensible rate of weight loss.

Before you start making changes to your lifestyle, it’s important to ask yourself if this is the right time. Are you motivated to change? The reasons you decide to lose weight will be personal to you. You might find you’re more successful if you choose a relatively calm time in your life to start. Conversely, changes in your circumstances, such as a new job or house move, may be the key to your weight loss success.

Whatever you decide, make sure you’re feeling positive and ready for the challenge.

To lose weight – and keep it off – you’ll need to make permanent changes to your diet and physical activity patterns. Think carefully about your daily routine. Keeping a food diary may help you to identify patterns in your eating behaviour. This will help you to decide on realistic changes you need to make.

Set achievable goals and try to make modifications to your existing diet and how active you are. Aim to lose about five to ten per cent of your initial body weight over a few months. Research shows this kind of weight loss is achievable and will improve your health.

Once you’ve reached your goal, congratulate yourself and set another five per cent weight loss target. This way, you’ll feel good about achieving small steps, rather than getting down because it’s taking you so long to lose a large amount of weight.

Sticking with it – You may lose more weight in some weeks than in others, but as long as your weight continues to decrease overall there’s no need to worry.

If your weight stays the same for a week or two, don’t abandon all you’ve achieved. Instead, focus on the amount and type of food you’re eating and try to be a little more active.

Page updated: 14 February, 2022