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Weight Management - Are You at a Healthy Weight?

Your first step to find out if you are at a healthy weight is to find out what your BMI, or body mass index, is and what your waist size is. For most people, these are good clues to whether they are at a healthy weight.

What's your BMI?

A healthy weight is one that is right for your body type and height and is based on your body mass index (BMI) and the size of your waist (waist circumference). If you are age 20 or older, use the Interactive Tool: Is Your BMI Increasing Your Health Risks? calculator.gif to check your BMI when you know your height in feet, weight in pounds, and waist circumference.

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, you are in the underweight category. Talk to your doctor to find out if your weight is a symptom of a medical problem. A registered dietitian can help you learn about healthy eating.
  • If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you are in the recommended weight range for your height. But your health may still be at risk if you are not getting regular physical activity and practicing healthy eating.
  • If your BMI is 25 to 29.9, you are in the overweight category. This may or may not be unhealthy, depending on some other things, like your waist size and other health problems you may have.
  • If your BMI is 30 or higher, you're in the obese category. You may need to lose weight and change your eating and activity habits to get healthy and stay healthy. See the topic Obesity.

If you are Asian, your recommended weight range may be lower. Talk to your doctor.

It's important to remember that your BMI is only one measure of your health. A person who is not at a "normal" weight according to BMI charts may be healthy if he or she has healthy eating habits and exercises regularly. People who are thin but don't exercise or eat nutritious foods aren't necessarily healthy just because they are thin.

What's your waist size?

After you know your BMI, it's time to look at your waist size.

Measuring your waist can help you find out how much fat you have stored around your belly. People who are "apple-shaped" camera.gif and store fat around their belly are more likely to develop weight-related diseases than people who are "pear-shaped" camera.gif and store most of their fat around their hips. Diseases that are related to weight include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Measure your waist size camera.gif with a tape measure. The tape should fit snugly but not press into your skin.

For most people, the goal for a healthy waist is:1

  • Less than 40 in. (102 cm) for men.
  • Less than 35 in. (88 cm) for women.
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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