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  • Being underweight or overweight is bad for your health.
  • Being underweight can make it difficult for your body to fight infections or illness and puts you at risk of fracturing bones if you fall.
  • Carrying around excess weight, particularly around the waist, may increase your risk of developing heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.


  • As we get older our energy needs can decrease so it can be easier to gain weight
  • Our body composition changes and we tend to lose muscle and gain fat. As fat requires less energy than muscle to function our energy needs to drop
  • Many people also become less physically active as they age
  • If you're using fewer calories and you haven't changed your diet, this will lead to weight gain
  • Hormonal changes as we get older also mean we become more likely to lay fat around the middle
  • So keep an eye on your weight as you get older – it’s easy for it to creep up gradually without noticing.

What is a healthy weight?

Weight alone does not take into account a person’s height. In view of this, weight is usually converted to Body Mass Index or BMI (weight (kg)/height (m2)). The standard World Health Organisation) classifications for BMI:

Normal weight 18.5-24.99
Overweight 25-29.99
Obese 30 and over

You can calculate your BMI on the NHS BMI calculator

In the older person some studies have shown that BMI isn't as good an indicator of health, but the same BMI cut-offs are still used as a guide.

Watch your waist size

Your BMI is a good starting point but you should also measure your waist. This is because people who carry too much weight around their middle have a greater risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes if your waist circumference is:

• Men - over 94cm/37inches (substantially increased risk over 102cm/40inches)

• Women - over 80cm/31.5inches (substantially increased risk over 88cm/34.5inches)

The cut-offs are lower for people of Asian backgrounds – If you are an Asian woman and have a waist circumference of more than 80 cm(31.5inches) or a man with a waist circumference of 90 cm(35inches) or more you are at greater risk and should seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Your health is at risk if you have a waist size of: Your health is at high risk if you have a waist size of:
Men Over 94cm (about 37 inches) Over 102cm (about 40 inches)
Women Over 80cm (about 31.5 inches) Over 88cm (about 34.5 inches)
Asian men Over 90cm (about 35.5 inches)
Asian women Over 80cm (about 31.5 inches)

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