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Looking after your weight

Keeping your weight down and looking after your waistline has never been easy, but will help you to look after your cholesterol and protect your heart. It can also lower your blood pressure and your risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Find out if you're a healthy weight and shape, and see our simple weight loss tips. 

Your weight

If your doctor has advised you to lose weight, then it can help to know that even a little weight loss makes a big difference. Losing just 10% of your body weight will help lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, your blood pressure, and your risk of Type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. It also takes the stress off your joints, making it easier to move about.

Your shape

It’s not just your weight that’s important, it’s your shape too. If you carry extra weight around your middle (known as 'apple shape') you’re more likely to develop heart and liver disease than if you carry your weight all over your body or around your hips and thighs (known as 'pear shape').

Being an apple shape can lead to higher cholesterol and triglycerides and cause fat to build up in your organs, especially your liver and pancreas. This stops them from working properly, leading to liver disease, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Making changes to what you eat and how active you are can help you look after your weight and lose fat from your middle. 

Finding out your BMI

Your BMI (body mass index) is a measure of your weight in relation to your height and it can give you an idea of whether you’re a healthy weight.

A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 25. A BMI higher than this means you’re at a higher risk of health problems.

Find out your BMI

Measuring your waist

It’s possible carry to much fat around your middle even if you're quite slim and have a healthy BMI. That’s why it’s helpful to check your waist measurement as well.

How to measure your waist

Find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs, and measure halfway between the two points. Breath out normally as you take the measurement, and check your measurement on the table below.

  Higher risk of illness Serious risk of illness
Women 80cm (32 inches) or above 88 cm (35 inches) or above
Men 94 cm (37 inches) or above 102 cm (40 inches) or above
South Asian men 90 cm (36 inches) or above 101 cm (39 inches) or above


Tips for losing weight

  • Go for smaller portions. We’re used to large portion sizes and often eat more than we need to without realising. Check packets for recommended portion sizes – these give a good idea of a healthy amount to eat.
  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables. They’re full of vitamins and minerals but low in calories. Your plate will be full so you’ll feel more satisfied without taking on extra calories.
  • Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses. It creates the illusion that you’re eating more than you really are, so you’ll feel satisfied while keeping your portion sizes down.
  • Choose foods that fill you up. Eat starchy foods like rice, potatoes or pasta with every meal to keep you feeling full without lots of extra calories. If you can, choose wholemeal, wholegrain and brown versions.
  • Avoid sugary and fatty snacks. They’re very high in calories without always filling you up or giving you any nutrients. Eat enough at meals times so you’re less tempted to snack and try healthier swaps like a handful of nuts or dried fruit. Find more healthy snack ideas
  • Check food labels. Lots of products have labels on the front of the pack as well as more detailed information on the back. Look at the sugar, salt, fat, saturated fat and calories and compare them to other products. You can often find much healthier swaps for products that otherwise seem very similar.
  • Be more active. Getting active and getting your heart rate up will use up extra calories. Try to be active for at least 30 minutes on most days.
  • Get help, advice or support. There is lots of support available to help you lose weight and live more healthily. Have a look at our healthy living information, speak to our dietitian and specialist nurse on our helpline, or talk to your doctor or nurse to see what’s available locally.