Guide to Healthy Weight Loss

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What You Need to Know

  1. Obesity is a growing problem in the UK; being seriously overweight can put you at heightened risk of conditions such as diabetes and even cancer.
  2. To see if you need to shed some pounds, calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) and see if you are a healthy weight for your height, age and sex.
  3. As a rule, if you have a BMI over 25, then you are overweight. A BMI above 30, meanwhile, means you are obese.
  4. However, BMI is not an absolute guide; since muscle weighs more than fat, some super-fit athletes are considered obsess by this measure.
  5. Also, check out your waist measurement to see if you need to lose weight; being fat around your mid-section can increase the risk of a range of serious medical conditions.
  6. Lose weight by combining a healthy diet with regular exercise. Aim to lose around 1lb of fat per week – this can be achieved by consuming 500 fewer calories per day.
  7. Setting realistic goals and getting in shape with a friend or partner are effective ways of staying motivated.

When Do you Need to Lose Weight?

Obesity is a growing problem in the UK, with the numbers of dangerously overweight people tripling since the 1980s. Many people eat too many fatty 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 your body mass index (BMI). BMI is easily calculated, simply divide your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared.

So, if, for example, a man who weighs 85kg is 1.75m tall, he 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 Food Standards Agency (FSA) 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 way to gauge if you should lose 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.

How to Lose Weight: Diet

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.

How to Lose Weight: Exercise

The best way of losing weight is combining a healthy diet with regular exercise; this will ensure that you shed excess pounds at a faster rate while also allowing you to tone up.

As with your diet, it’s best not to take drastic action. So, if you never really exercise, start getting active gradually, for example by walking a little each day or visiting the gym for just half an hour a few times a week. Once your body starts getting used to exercising, then you can start building on this and you should start seeing the results.

Also, it’s best to do what you enjoy. So, if you hate gyms, consider joining a sports team or taking up dancing. Alternatively, get an exercise buddy who will help make getting fit fun and keep you motivated.

Staying Motivated

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.

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