Updated 25 October 2017

Think you're overweight? Use these 5 ways to find out

What’s the best way to measure your weight – BMI or the old-fashioned scale? Turns out there are a number of ways.

At some point you’ve probably been unhappy with your weight – for most of us it’s because we believe we weigh too much. 

You've calculated you BMI and it clearly shows you are overweight. Now what?

For years, the body mass index (BMI) has been used to measure obesity, but even the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that this is a crude method. 

The WHO defines obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a health risk”.

Obesity has more than doubled since the 1980s. In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults (18 years and older) were overweight – and more than 600 million people were obese.

If you are worried about your weight, here are some ways to measure it. And if you're still in doubt, speak to your doctor about what your weight should be. 

1. BMI

BMI reportedly dates back to the 1830s. It takes your weight (kg) and divides it by the square of your height (m), giving you result between 18 and 30.

If your BMI is 30 or more, you are considered obese, while 25 to 29.9 indicates you are overweight. If your BMI is 18.5 or less, you are considered to be underweight. You can check yours here

However, BMI doesn’t take into account bone structure and height – so if you’re really tall (or short) the results are often skewed.

2. Body fat percentage

Body fat percentage is a measurement of the fat in your body. You need a certain amount of fat to survive but when this number is too high, you put yourself at risk of health-related conditions.

To measure your body fat percentage, you’ll need calipers. Find out if your gym offers this service or chat to your doctor. fat content, percentage, essential fat, healthy, i

3. Waist circumference

Researchers at the Harvard and the National Institutes of Health report that "women who carry excess fat around their waists are at greater risk of dying early from cancer or heart disease than women with smaller waistlines, even if they are of normal weight." 

Men with a waist measuring more than 102cm and women more than 88cm are putting their health at risk of developing chronic diseases of lifestyle. 

To measure your waist, wrap a tape measure around your stomach (just above your hip bone) and relax. The tape measure should be flat against your skin – although it’s tempting to pull it close to your skin and suck your belly in, don’t do this because this will lead to inaccurate results. 

4. Hip-to-waist ratio

Another way is using the waist-to-hip ratio where you measure the narrowest part of your waist and compare it to the widest part of your hip. The calculation is waist circumference divided by hip circumference. 

Men, if your hip ratio is equal to or less than 0.8, then your risk of lifestyle diseases is low; when the ratio is equal to or more than 1.00, your risk is high.

Women, if your hip ratio is equal to or less than than 0.70, your risk of lifestyle diseases is low; when the ratio is equal to or more than 0.8, your risk is high.

5. Weigh yourself

A scale can give you an indication of the amount of weight you’ve lost (if you’re trying) or gained (if you want to keep an eye on your weight). Remember to weigh yourself at the same time of day (preferably in the morning after you’ve cleared your bowels). Don’t obsess and only weigh yourself once a week. 

If you’re actively trying to lose weight, a healthy amount to lose is about 500g to 1kg a week. Just keep in mind that factors like building muscle or water retention can affect your results. 

Make sure the scale is on a flat surface (not a carpet) and remove any heavy clothing. Aim to weigh yourself in the same clothes (or naked) when you do your weekly weigh in.

Image credit: iStock


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