Healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your long-term health and wellbeing. Being overweight or obese, is a risk factor for other health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Factors that can contribute to carrying excess body weight can include sedentary lifestyle, low levels of physical activity, poor dietary choices, mindless eating and genetics.
A healthy weight can be achieved by eating a healthy well-balanced diet, in conjunction with  regular physical activity. Body weight is determined by energy balance, the amount of energy in (from food and drink consumed) versus the amount of energy out (activity level, body functions).
Energy In: Kilojoules and calories are words used to measure the amount of energy in food. The more kilojoules or calories in food, relates to more energy in food and drinks, and therefore more activity is required to burn the energy. The more high-energy food and drinks you consume, the more active you will need to be to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight.
Energy Out: The human body uses energy in small amounts every day for body functions such as sleeping, standing, breathing, sitting and chewing. Being physically active also burns energy. This includes physical activity such as running, walking or swimming, as well as daily activities including vacuuming, gardening and cleaning. The more active you are, the more energy you will burn.
To maintain weight, the amount of energy consumed (in), is similar to the amount of energy burnt (out).
To lose weight the amount of energy consumed (in), is less than the amount of energy burnt (out).
To gain weight the amount of energy consumed (in), is more than the amount of energy burnt (out).
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is a calculation often used by health professionals to determine if you are of a healthy weight. See the Health Active BMI calculator to determine your BMI.
BMI Scale
Healthy weight
  • BMI should only be used as a guide to managing weight. You also need to consider your body shape and waist circumference.
  • BMI should not be used on infants, children and adolescents (people under the age of 18).
  • Be mindful BMI categories can be different for different ethnic groups.
  • BMI does not differentiate between fat mass and muscle mass, therefore muscular people, including athletes, will typically record a higher BMI, and this does not mean that they are at risk of poor health.
Waist circumference
Waist circumference is another measurement used to determine healthy weight. Ideally for men, a waist circumference of <94cm is recommended, and <80cm for women. A waist circumference measurement is typically taken using a tape measure, placed at your belly button level. Another technique, is monitoring your belt, to see if you are going down knotches on your belt.
  At risk Increased risk
Male >94cm >102cm
Female >80cm >88cm


Body shape
Fat distribution is associated with health risk. Excess body fat around the stomach, known as apple shape, can increase your risk of poor health. Excess body fat around the thighs, hips and buttock, known as pear shape, is associated with reduced risk of poor health.
Tips to a healthy weight
  • Enjoy a healthy diet. (link to healthy eating)
  • Lots of fruit, vegetables, grains, lean meats and alternatives and reduced-fat dairy.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Limit intake of foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day.
    • Have at least 2 alcohol-free days per week.
  • Set realistic goals.
    • Work on one at a time, and give yourself plenty of time to achieve your goal for a better lifestyle. (link to goal setting)
  • Avoid fad diets.
    • Rapid weight loss through these methods is usually regained soon after.
    • Restrictive eating patterns are not healthy and are not sustainable in the long-term.
    • A healthy diet and regular physical activity is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Stress less.
    • Make sure to get a good sleep each night.
    • Speak to a family member or friend if there is something worrying you.
    • Be positive.
  • Seek help from a health professional if you need help in achieving a healthy weight.



  1. The Dietitians Association of Australia, Overweight and obesity, viewed 13 June 2013
  2. The Dietitians Association of Australia, Body mass index, viewed 13 June 2013
  3. The Dietitians Association of Australia, Weight management, viewed 13 June 2013,
  4. National Heart Foundation of Australia, Healthy weight, viewed 13 June 2013
  5. Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government 2010, Danger of intra-abdominal fat, viewed 13 June 2013
  6. Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government 2009, What is a healthy weight, viewed 13 June 2013,