What is a healthy body weight?

A healthy weight is the appropriate body weight for you. It is different for everyone and depends on your:

  • gender
  • age
  • height
  • muscle mass
  • biological and genetic factors, including ethnic background.

Body mass index

Body mass index (BMI) is an internationally recognised standard to classify the body weight of adults. You can use your BMI to give you a rough indication of whether your are in a healthy weight range based on your height and weight.

The formula is BMI = kg/m2 where kg is a person’s weight in kilograms and m2 is their height in metres squared.

A BMI of 25.0 or more is overweight, while the healthy range is 18.5 to 24.9.

Although BMI is not a perfect measure, it is the most useful and valid for adults. BMI is not an appropriate measure for children, pregnant women and body builders. You should discuss your BMI with your doctor.

Waist measurement

Measuring your waist can help predict your risk of some chronic conditions.

A higher waist size shows internal fat deposits, which can coat the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas. This increases the risk of chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetesheart disease and some cancers.

Men and post-menopausal women are more likely to develop excess fat in the waist area. Fat that is mainly around the hips and buttocks doesn’t carry the same risk.

Waist size showing increased risk of chronic disease

Gender Increased risk Greatly increased risk
Men 94 cm or more 102 cm or more
Women 80 cm or more 88 cm or more

Generally, the larger your waist, the higher your risk of developing chronic conditions.

These measurements do not apply to children and pregnant women.

Measuring your waist

To measure your waist:

  • take off any bulky clothing, loosen your belt and empty your pockets
  • stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • wrap a tape measure around your belly – in line with your belly button, and loose enough to fit one finger inside the tape.

Reference: Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Website