National Obesity Week (15 – 19 October) aims to encourage South Africans to maintain a healthy weight. But what is the ideal weight?


Obesity could be regarded as a chronic and fatal disease as it has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.

A healthy body weight varies from person to person but there are two tools commonly used to determine a healthy weight and/or body fat. Please note that these tools should not be used to determine the healthy weight of growing children, teenagers or pregnant women.

Measure BMI

One way to work out if you’re the right weight for your height is by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). To work out your BMI, divide your weight (kg) by your height (m) squared. Here’s the formula: BMI = Weight (kg) / (Height (m) x Height (m)). Alternatively, use Health24’s online BMI calculator.

Now compare your result to these indicators below to find out if you should lose or gain weight:

  • Less than 18.5 – Underweight
  • 18.5–24.9 – Normal weight
  • 25–29.9 – Overweight
  • 30 and over – Obese

Measure waist-to-hip ratio

There are doubts about the accuracy of the BMI formula as it doesn’t take into about different body types or muscle mass and for this reason, some researchers and healthcare professionals prefer measuring waist-to-hip ratio.
To calculate your waist-to-hip ratio, measure the circumference of your waist with a tape measure. Don’t pull in your stomach but make sure you measure the narrowest part of your midsection (just above the belly button). Now measure your hips and divide your waist measurement by your hip measure to find your waist-to-hip ratio.
Women with a waist-to-hip ratio over .85 and men over the .90 ratio are at risk for weight related lifestyle diseases.

Overweight; what now?

If you’ve found out that you have weight to lose, speak to an Essential Med networked-registered healthcare professional about starting a healthy exercise programme and eating plan. You could also follow our regular free healthy lifestyle tips via our Facebook fan page and Twitter account.

Sources: South African Government Information Belly Shape UpFree BMI calculator National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Health24