Healthy weight

Are you a healthy weight?

How do I know if I'm a healthy weight?

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.

Many people have a distorted perception of what a healthy body weight is. 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 in society 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. 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.

Body mass index

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

Body frame size is determined by a person's wrist circumference in relation to his height. For example, a man whose height is over 5' 5" and wrist is 6" would fall into the small-boned category.

Body frame size and BMI

To determine the body frame size, to determine whether you are small, medium, or large boned One easy way to determine your body frame size is to wrap your thumb and fore finger around the smallest part of your wrist.

  • If your fingers overlap, an estimate for your frame size is a small frame
  • If your fingers just touch, an estimate of your frame is a medium frame
  • If your fingers do not touch, an estimate for your frame is a large frame

Add 10 percent to the healthy weight for a large frame size, and subtract 10 percent for a small frame.

Waist measurement

Another method of assessing whether you're a healthy weight is to measure your waist. This gives an indication of how much fat is stored around your middle. Excess fat in this area increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Place a tape measure around the narrowest point of your waist (between your lower ribs and your hips), breathe out and measure. A waist measurement greater than 80cm (32in) for women and 94cm (37in) for men increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases - for example, heart attacks and stroke - and diabetes. There is a much bigger risk is for women whose waist measurement is more than 88cm (35in) and men with a waist measurement of more than 102cm (40in).

BMI healthy weight calculator

BMI is good way to check if you're a healthy weight. Use our BMI calculator to check the whole family and find helpful information and advice. BMI is a measure of whether you're a healthy weight for your height.

Try the NHS BMI calculator

Not weighing enough can also put your health at risk. A number of underweight people are fit and well, they simply have a slender shape. 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 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.

More information can be found at the BEAT website:  

If your BMI and waist measurement show that you're overweight, changes to your lifestyle could help to control your weight.

If you are obese it is even more important to get your weight under control. Obesity is more than just a few extra pounds; it is the heavy accumulation of fat in your body to such a degree that it rapidly increases your risk of diseases that can damage your health and knock years off your life, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Healthy weight service 

There is a free healthy weight service in Warrington, focusing on healthy lifestyle advice. They offer an effective, safe approach to change behaviour by incorporate healthy eating, exercise and cooking skills into their life.

You will have an initial assessment to ensure they receive the most appropriate service. Support comes in the form of an 8 weeks healthy weight group, a 4 week one to one or attendance at the weekly drop-in clinic (appointment not necessary).

You will also be given a 12 months follow-up appointment and offered weekly support before and after your selected programme at the drop-in.

This service is suitable for overweight and obese aged 16 years or over in Warrington. Referrals to this service can be made by your GP or as a self referral by contacting the team or attending the Drop-in Clinic.

Visit the Livewire Lifestyles website.

Weight Management Drop In Timetable

These are drop in sessions, just turn up during the session times, no need to book. Weight Management sessions are for individuals with a BMI of 28+.

 Day  Time  Location 
 Monday 12:00 - 13:00 Westy Children's Centre, Tinsley St Latchford WA4 1RE
Monday 14:00 - 15:00 Stockton Heath Library, 38 Alexandra Road, Stockton Heath, WA4 2AN
Monday  17:00 - 18:45 Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood hub, Jubilee Way, Orford, WA2 8HE 
Tuesday 09:00 – 10:00 Woolston Neighbourhood Hub, Hall Road, Woolston WA1 4PN
Tuesday 10:00 – 12:00 Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood Hub, Jubilee Way, Orford WA2 8HE
Tuesday 11:00 - 13:00 The Gateway, 89 Sankey Street, WA1 1SR
Wednesday 17:30 – 18:30 Birchwood Leisure & Tennis Complex, Benson Road, Birchwood WA3 7PQ
Thursday 11:30 - 12:30 Burtonwood Library, Chapel Lane, Burtonwood, WA5 4PS
Thursday 16:30 – 19:00 Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre, Legh Street, WA1 1UG
Friday 08:30 – 10:00 Culcheth GP Surgery, Jackson Avenue, Culcheth, WA3 4DZ
Friday 09:30 – 10:30 Fairfield and Howley Neighbourhood Project, Fairfield Street, WA1 3AJ

Are you a healthy weight but unhappy?

If your weight lies within the healthy range but you're unhappy with your shape, you'll probably derive more benefits from a supervised exercise programme than by restricting your diet.

This will improve your fitness, help to tone specific muscle groups and enhance your overall health and wellbeing.