Healthy lifestyles Nutrition Healthy weight

Healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is extremely important to your health and overall well-being.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a ratio of weight to height. It is a very useful indicator of health risks associated with being overweight and underweight for most people. BMI is does not apply to people under 18 years old, pregnant or lactating women.

How is BMI calculated?

BMI is based on the following formula:
BMI = weight(kg)/ height(m) 2


Weight status

Health risks

Less than 18.5


Risk of osteoporosis and under nutrition. May indicate an underlying disease or an eating disorder


Normal Weight

Lowest risk of weight related health problems



Greater risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, stroke and some cancers

30.0 and over



BMI may not accurately assess your health risk if you are:

  • A muscular athlete
  • A young adult that has not reached full growth
  • over age 65 

If you have any concerns you have about your BMI, please speak with your health care provider.

Waist circumference

Where you carry your weight is just as important as your total weight. Waist circumference (fat stored around your middle) can be used to predict your of risk of developing obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke and high blood pressure.

As waist circumference increase, the risk of developing health problems increases. Even if your BMI is in the 'normal weight' range, a high waist circumference can still indicate some health risk. Health Canada has specific waist circumference cut-off points that are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Waist circumference does not apply to pregnant or breastfeeding women, people under the age of 18 and over the age of 65.



    Waist circumference cut-off points

    Health risk


    Greater than or equal to 102 cm (40 inches)


    Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure


    Greater than or equal to 88 cm (40 inches)

    Source: Health Canada (2003). Canadian Guidelines for Body Weight Classification in Adults


Learn how to measure your waist circumference 

Pregnancy weight gain

Pregnancy weight gain calculator

Healthy weights for children

Learn more about recommended weights for children