How can I tell if I’m at a healthy weight?

One way to determine if your weight is healthy is to calculate your “body mass index” (B.M.I). Body mass index is a simple index which divides your weight in kilograms by your height in meters (squared), but does not consider gender or frame size.

A B.M.I value of 18.5 to 24.9 is usually considered normal, people having a B.M.I less than 18.5 are said to be underweight, whereas those having higher (25-29.9) are overweight. A B.M.I value greater than 30 reveals obesity and should be seriously concerned about weight loss and lifestyle modification.

B.M.I is easy to calculate and is often used by doctors as a simple way to determine if a person’s weight is healthy. However it doesn’t reflect how much of your weight is muscle and how much of your weight is fat. If you are athletic, it is possible to have more weight in muscle than the average person, as a result to have a B.M.I that reads overweight or obese, despite the fact that you are obviously lean and fit. That means your BMI may not accurately show your health and fitness.

Using B.M.I as an indicator of a healthy weight has limitations and health experts recommend the measurement of body fat expressed as a percentage of total body weight as more accurate representation of health. The generally accepted ideal body fat percentage for a male is 15% and for a female 25%. High levels of fat influence the quality and length of life.

You can estimate your body fat percentage by using hydrostatic weighing, skin-fold caliper or bioimpedance method. These methods are more accurate but require expensive equipment and skilled individuals to make the calculations.

How do you maintain a healthy body weight?

The key steps for maintaining a healthy weight it simply means to balance the calories you eat from foods and beverages with the calories you burn from your daily activities. Some ways to achieve weight balance are:

  • Eat a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and poultry
  • Limit foods high in added fat and sugar such as fried foods, margarine/butter and sweets
  • Limit time in sedentary activities, like watching television and internet surfing
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep a diary to evaluate you food consumption and exercise routine
  • Eat sensible food portions