Assessing Your Weight
If you've been thinking about your current weight, it may be because you've noticed a change in how your clothes fit. Or maybe you've been told by a health care professional that you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and that excessive weight could be a contributing factor. The first step is to assess whether or not your current weight is healthy.
How can I tell if I'm at a healthy weight?
Adult Body Mass Index or BMI
One way to begin to determine whether your weight is a healthy one is to calculate your "body mass index" (BMI). For most people, BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness. It is calculated based on your height and weight.
- If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the "underweight" range.
- If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the "normal" or Healthy Weight range.
- If your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9, it falls within the "overweight" range.
- If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the "obese" range.
"Underweight", "normal", "overweight", and "obese" are all labels for ranges of weight. Obese and overweight describe ranges of weight that are greater than what is considered healthy for a given height, while underweight describes a weight that is lower than what is considered healthy. If your BMI falls outside of the "normal" or Healthy Weight range, you may want to talk to your doctor or health care provider about how you might achieve a healthier body weight. Obesity and overweight have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.
At an individual level, BMI can be used as a screening tool but is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual. A trained healthcare provider should perform appropriate health assessments in order to evaluate an individual's health status and risks.
Another way to assess your weight is to measure your waist size. Your waistline may be telling you that you have a higher risk of developing obesity-related conditions if you are:
- A man whose waist circumference is more than 40 inches
- A non-pregnant woman whose waist circumference is more than 35 inches
Excessive abdominal fat is serious because it places you at greater risk for developing obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. Individuals who have excessive abdominal fat should consult with their physicians or other health care providers to develop a plan for losing weight.
How To Measure Your Waist Size1
To measure your waist size (circumference), place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone. Be sure that the tape is snug, but does not compress your skin, and is parallel to the floor. Relax, exhale, and measure your waist.
Note: The information on these pages is intended for adult men and non-pregnant women only. To assess the weight of children or teenagers, see the Child and Teen BMI Calculator.
Want to learn more?
The Health Effects of Overweight and ObesityThe Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity
Being overweight or obese can increase your chances of developing certain diseases. Your health care provider can help you assess your risk factors and offer guidance on losing weight.
1DHHS, A Healthier You, page 14.