How to check if you’re overweight

The fat stored around your internal organs is the dangerous kind. Here’s how to check if you could be at risk

A QUICK INDICATOR that you may be overweight is your body mass index (BMI) – there’s a handy BMI calculator here. But your waist circumference is generally considered to be a better measure of your risk of health problems.

Finding the tipping point from a healthy belly to a hazardous one isn’t as simple as doing a pinch test. ‘Slim people who run marathons may still be able to grab a pinch of abdominal fat. It’s not this fat, but the deeper visceral fat that’s most dangerous,’ explains Healthy Food Guide expert Professor David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum. Visceral fat is stored within the abdominal cavity around the internal organs, and this is what poses a threat to health.

How to measure your waist accurately

1. Put a tape measure directly against your skin and breathe out normally.
2. Making sure the tape is snug, without compressing your skin, measure halfway between your lowest rib and the top of your hip bone, roughly in line with your belly button.
3. Check your waist measurement against our healthy belly table, below, for a general guide to your potential risk of chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

Check your risk


Less than 94cm (37in) Less than 80cm (31.5in) Average
94–102cm (37–40in) 80–88cm (31.5–34.5in) Increased
More than 102cm (40in) More than 88cm (34.5in) Greatly increased


*Weight-loss results will vary and are down to your individual circumstances and the amount of weight you have to lose.

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