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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Finding out if I am a healthy weight

Te hihira mēnā he taumahatanga hauora tōku

Working out your body mass index (BMI) is a good way to find out if you are a healthy weight.

Your BMI estimates how much body fat you have and indicates your risk of getting diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some types of cancer. These are more common in people with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk.

Most people over the age of 18 can use the BMI, but it does have some limits. It may:

Working out your BMI

You can work out your BMI using the following online BMI calculator from Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand. You will need to know your weight in kilograms and your height in centimetres. The calculator will tell you if you are underweight, a healthy weight, a slightly unhealthy weight or a very unhealthy weight.

After giving you your BMI result, the calculator provides practical information about why the result matters. You should also take a note of your BMI result and read the rest of the information on this page.


Your BMI result

Underweight (less than 18.5)

Being underweight could be a sign that you are not eating enough, or you have an underlying health issue. Make an appointment to see your general practice team. Find out more in How to gain weight.

Healthy weight (18.5 – 24.9)

For tips on maintaining a healthy weight see Eating well for good health and Keeping active.

Slightly unhealthy weight (25 – 29.9)

The best way to lose weight is by eating fewer calories than you need and being more active. Find out more in How to lose weight.

It is important to be aware that not everyone who has a BMI of 25 to 29.9 needs to lose weight. This is strongly dependent on your medical and family history. Please talk to your general practice team or dietitian for more information.

Very unhealthy weight (30 and over)

The best way to lose weight is by eating fewer calories than you need and being more active. Find out more in How to lose weight.

If you are concerned about your weight, talk to your general practice team.

Your waist size also matters

Measuring your waist is a good way to check that you do not have too much fat around your stomach. You can have a healthy BMI and still have too much tummy fat, which can also raise your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

A waist measurement is not suitable if you are pregnant or have a medical condition where you have swelling of your stomach. It is also not suitable for babies, children and teenagers.

You may need someone to help you measure your waist.

  1. Stand upright with your feet close together and arms at your side.
  2. Find the bottom of your last rib and the top of your hip bone (this is usually above your belly button).
  3. Place the tape measure midway between these two points and wrap it around your waist.
  4. Relax and breathe in and out normally.
  5. Take your measurement after breathing out.

No matter what your BMI is or how tall you are, you should try to lose weight if your waist is:

If your waist is:

you are at a very high risk and should talk to your general practice team.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed January 2024.


See also:

Being active to lose weight

Healthy eating to lose weight

How to lose weight

How to gain weight

Finding out if my child is a healthy weight

Page reference: 45123

Review key: HIMWA-28082