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Weight, body mass index and waist circumference

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Many experts recognise body mass index (BMI) as the most accurate way to determine if you are a healthy weight for your height by providing a numerical rating. Recent medical research uses BMI as an indicator of an individual’s health status and disease risk.

Below are the ranges for BMI values for adults:



Health risk


Less than 18.5

Osteoporosis, infertility and lung disease. Recommended to speak to a GP.

Healthy Weight

18.6 – 24.9

Low risk of a weight related disease.


25.0 – 29.9

type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease and certain cancers.


Greater than 30

Higher risk of all the above diseases.


BMI doesn’t tell the whole picture (like where on the body you are carrying weight and what that weight is eg. Muscle, tissue or fat). BMI is just an indicator to follow. BMI is beneficial for assessing a person’s risk of disease, such as heart disease and diabetes and can give an indication of how likely you are to develop these diseases. BMI is only suitable for someone who participates in light exercise.

Waist Circumference

Carrying weight around your stomach compared to elsewhere on the body, is directly linked with an increased risk of certain chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. The reason carrying weight around your stomach (trunk region) makes you more susceptible to chronic diseases are due to the hormones which are produced as a result and they have a negative impact on our bodies.


How to measure your waist?

To measure your waist, you need to find the bottom of your rips and the top of your hips. Your waist is located in the middle of these two points (for the majority of people this will be around the belly button). A measuring tape is then wrapped around your bare skin or a light shirt. Make sure to be relaxed, exhale and then measure your waist. A common mistake regularly made is assuming your waist is where your trousers sit


The table below indicates your risk of ill health depending on your waist measurement. These measurements refer to adults only. 


Waist measurement



Healthy Range

36 inches or less

31 inches or less

Overweight range

37- 40 inches

32 – 35 inches

Obese range

40 inches or over

35 inches or over


Overweight range

Regardless of your height or build, if your waist measurement is over 32 inches as a woman and 37 inches as a man you are considered to be in the overweight range. This doesn’t necessarily mean an individual is obese; what it indicates is that the person is carrying excess weight around their middle and are at an increased risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. If you are in the overweight range, making healthy lifestyle changes, improving your diet and increasing exercise will help reduce or prevent any further increases in your waist.


Ireland’s top Obesity Expert to speak in Mullingar

There is more to Professor O’Shea than his appearances RTE’s Operation Transformation. Professor O’Shea is Ireland’s top expert on obesity and is especially interested in children’s obesity. Professor O’Shea is consultant endocrinologist and in 1999 he set up a treatment unit for obesity in Ireland between St Vincent's and St Columcilles Hospitals in Dublin.


Mullingar Information event with Professor O’Shea on Monday March 7th

Whelehans pharmacy are teaming with Dr Donal O’Shea and number of health professionals including local HSE dieticians to hold a Sugar and Obesity Information Event on Monday March 7th at 7:30pm in the Greville Arms Hotel. Dr O’Shaea is key speaker. There will be lots of tips to help you reduce your sugar and fat intake without reducing enjoyment of food. It will be of particular interest to parents and kids to help learn fun facts and ways to reduce fats abd sugar. You will have the chance for free advice from diet and health experts on the night. It is a free to attend; call Whelehans at 04493 34591 to book your free place.


Ireland’s Top Obesity Expert Dr Donal O’Shea and number of health professionals hold a Sugar and Obesity Information Event on Monday March 7th at 7:30pm in the Greville Arms Hotel. Book your free place by calling Whelehans at 044 9334591 or e-mailing


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