Aiming for a healthy weight - Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes - Aiming for a healthy weight

A healthy weight for adults is usually when your body mass index (BMI) is between 18.5 and 24.9. To figure out your BMI, use the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s online BMI calculator and compare your BMI with the following table. You can also download the BMI calculator app for iPhone and Android.

BMI chart
Body mass index (BMI) is used to determine if you are underweight, healthy, or overweight or obese. Adults are underweight if their BMI is below 18.5, healthy weight if their BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, overweight if their BMI is 25 to 29.9, and obese if their BMI is 30 or above.

Always talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about what BMI is right for you. Talk to your child’s doctor to determine if your growing child is a healthy weight, because his or her BMI should be compared to growth charts specific for your child’s age and sex. Following a heart-healthy eating plan and being physically active are some ways to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. For more information, visit Aim for a Healthy Weight.

Learn about the health risks of being overweight or obese, and the health benefits of maintaining a healthy weight.

Health risks of being overweight or obese

The more body fat that you have and the more you weigh, the more likely you are to develop ischemic heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, and certain cancers. Visit our Overweight and Obesity Health Topic for more information.

Measuring waist circumference

If you are overweight or obese, your doctor may measure your waist circumference to help determine your risk of developing other health conditions. To correctly measure your waist circumference, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.

If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk may be high with a waist circumference that is more than 35 inches for women or more than 40 inches for men.

Benefits of maintaining a healthy weight

If you are overweight or obese, try to lose weight. Health professionals recommend losing 5 to 10 percent of your initial weight over the course of about 6 months. Even before you reach this goal, a loss of just 3 to 5 percent of your current weight can lower triglycerides and glucose levels in your blood, as well as your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Losing more than 3 to 5 percent of your weight can improve blood pressure readings, lower bad LDL cholesterol, and increase good HDL cholesterol.