Do You Need to Lose Weight?

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What You Need to Know

  1. Almost a quarter of the adult population is classified obese.
  2. It’s thought that around 30,000 premature deaths are caused by obesity in the UK every year.
  3. You figure out whether you need to lose weight by measuring your Body Mass Index, which is your weight in kilograms divided by your height in metres.
  4. If your score is above 25, you need to start slimming down, if it’s above 18.5 you actually need to put on a bit of weight.
  5. To lose weight you have to burn more calories than you are taking on, which can be achieved by increased exercise and a healthier diet.
  6. Weight loss should be seen as a long term goal. Quick fixes can lead to yo-yo dieting which can cause you health problems such as vitamin deficiency.

Obesity is a growing problem in the UK, with the numbers of dangerously overweight people tripling since the 1980s. Many people eat unhealthy foods, do less exercise and end up overweight.

At the same time, too many people compare themselves to the idealised bodies seen in magazines and on television, rather than making an objective assessment about their weight. So how do you know if you need to lose weight?

Body Mass Index

An accurate guide to what constitutes a healthy weight is based on your body mass index (BMI), which is very easy to calculate. Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared.

For example, a man who weighs 85kg and is 1.75m tall will have a BMI of 28.

If you're still unsure how to work out your BMI, you can use the free BMI calculator on the NHS website.

If you work out your BMI and find that the figure is between 18.5 and 25 then you’re the ideal healthy weight. Below 18.5 is underweight, while over 25 is overweight and 30 or more means that you're obese. However, this is not an accurate guide if you have a muscular body type, as muscle is heavier than fat, or if you're pregnant.

Measuring your waist size is another guide to weight – albeit a less accurate one. Up to 80cm for a woman and 94cm for a man is judged to be healthy. Anything over 88 or 102 is unhealthy and should be dealt with as soon as possible as it could lead to Type 2 Diabetes in later life.


According to the International Obesity Task Force, England and Scotland have some of the highest levels of obesity in Europe. The National Audit Office, estimates that obesity leads to 18,000 sick days and 30,000 deaths a year in England alone as well as putting people at risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, lung disorders, arthritis, diabetes and strokes, as well as other health complications.

Losing weight will help relieve the risk of these health problems, as well as boosting your self-confidence and general wellbeing.

Losing weight

According to the FSA, more than half of women, and about two-thirds of men are either overweight or obese. If you need to lose weight, doing so could make a huge difference to your health and self-esteem as well as giving you more energy.

Simply put, to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in, which means eating a healthy diet and being more active.

Losing weight is an inexact science that takes time and should be approached in a steady and realistic manner. Making small changes to your diet – by replacing biscuits with fruit, for instance – and being more active will help you achieve realistic goals. The trick is to get into good habits and stick with them, though you can still enjoy your favourite foods now and again.

Aim to lose around half-a-kilo of body fat every week – that’s 1lb or 3,500 calories – through sensible eating and 30 minutes of moderate exercise on as many days as possible. You’ll be more likely to keep the weight off if you lose it slowly and sensibly.

It’s easier to maintain a regime and achieve your aims if you are flexible from time to time and have the support of someone else on a similar weight-loss plan.

Be patient. Don’t give up if you forget your plan for a day or two, and don’t resort to quick-fix diets. They are not the answer, and usually cannot be sustained for long periods because they don’t provide all the essential nutrients your body needs. Continuous yoyo dieting can also put your body at risk of iron and vitamin deficiencies.

Further Reading

  • Weight Watchers can help you lose weight along with others sharing the same goal.

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