Am I a healthy weight?

Man stands on scales

You can find out whether your weight is within the healthy range by working out your body mass index, or BMI. Another useful indicator of whether you are a healthy weight is to measure your waist. Put the tape measure about an inch above your belly button. For women, a healthy waist measurement is less than 31.5 inches, and for men, it’s less than 37 inches.

What is BMI?

BMI is a useful tool for finding out if you have a healthy weight for your height. But remember, it is only a guide and is not accurate for some groups of people, like pregnant women or children.

You can use our BMI chart below to find out which group you fall into, or work out BMI using an online calculator like this one from NHS Choices. The number tells you how healthy your weight is:

  • Under 18.5 is underweight.
  • 18.5-25 is healthy weight.
  • 25-30 is overweight.
  • 30-40 is obese.
  • over 40 is very obese.

This chart shows the underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obese ranges for various weights and heights. Look for your weight on the horizontal lines, and your height on the vertical lines.

Guide to your Body Mass Index (BMI) picture

Is a healthy weight range the same for everyone?

In most cases, BMI is a useful tool. But it is not accurate for some groups:

  • Children and young people (up to age 18) - doctors use gender and age specific charts to measure young people’s BMI.
  • Professional athletes and bodybuilders - BMI doesn’t distinguish between muscle and fat, so people with lots of muscle and low body fat could be classified as overweight or obese.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women, who need higher fat reserves than usual.

Research also suggests that the range of healthy BMI and waist circumference should be lower for people of black, Asian, some Middle Eastern or mixed ethnicity. But most of this evidence comes from other diseases, like diabetes, rather than cancer.

If you have any questions or worries about your BMI or waist measurement, visit your GP for more advice. Or look at the children’s BMI calculator from Weight Concern if you’re concerned about a child’s weight.

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