Information for the public

Assessing your weight

Assessing your weight

If you think you are overweight and go to see a healthcare professional, such as your GP or a nurse at your GP surgery, they should talk to you about your concerns. They may ask to check your height and weight, and use these to work out your BMI. Your healthcare professional may ask to check your height and weight to see if you are overweight even if you are visiting them for some other reason.

Healthcare professionals may sometimes measure your waist size as well, as this can help them work out if you are at risk. Even though two people may have the same BMI, the one with the bigger waist measurement is more likely to develop health problems as a result of being overweight. If you are a man, your chance of developing health problems is higher if your waist measurement is more than 94 cm (37 inches), and higher still if it is more than 102 cm (40 inches). If you are a woman, your chance of developing health problems is higher if your waist measurement is more than 80 cm (31.5 inches), and higher still if it is more than 88  cm (34.5 inches).

Your healthcare professional should also ask you:

  • whether your weight is causing you any problems

  • about your diet and how much physical activity you do

  • if there is anything else that might be contributing to your putting on weight, such as problems in your personal life.

They should also check whether you have any medical conditions that could put you at higher risk of problems related to being overweight. You may be offered a blood pressure check and some blood tests, for example, to check your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Children and young people who are seriously overweight may be offered an appointment at a hospital for some of these tests.

You may be asked to come back for another appointment, perhaps to discuss test results. This should be with the same healthcare professional if possible.

All this information can help your healthcare professional decide what types of advice and support could be useful for you. They should talk to you about the possibilities and what is involved, including:

  • the benefits of eating a healthier, lower-calorie diet and doing more physical activity to help you lose weight

  • how you feel about making these changes

  • any questions you have.

If it's not the right time for you to make changes, you can take up this offer of help later on if you change your mind.

If you have health problems related to being overweight or obese, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, these should be treated when they are diagnosed. Treatment should not be put off until you have lost weight, but losing weight may help these problems.

Questions to ask about obesity

  • What is my BMI, and does it mean I am overweight or obese?

  • Might I be at risk even though my BMI isn't too high?

  • What problems might I get from being overweight or obese?

  • Can you give me information on how I could change my lifestyleto help me lose weight?

  • As well as lifestyle changes, is there anything else I can do to help me lose weight?

  • Do I need to be treated for anything else related to my weight, and does that need to happen right now?

  • Information Standard