It’s easy to work out if you have a healthy weight and shape and whether your size is likely to affect your heart health. Just calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) and measure your waist to find out if you’re an apple or a pear!

What is BMI?

Your BMI (some people call it your BMI index) is based on your height and weight. You can work it out by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres, squared.

BMI = weight/(height x height)

So, if you’re 1.75 metres tall and weigh 73kg, your BMI is 73/1.75², or 23.84. That’s in the healthy range.

  • If your BMI is below 18.5, you’re considered underweight
  • If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you have a healthy weight for your height
  • If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, you’re considered overweight
  • If your BMI is over 30, you’re considered to be obese

A healthy weight is important to lower your risk of heart disease. But remember, the values are slightly different for people of South Asian origin: they need to keep their BMI under 23 to keep their hearts healthy.

Apples and pears

Your waist size is thought to be an even better measure of heart health than your BMI. It all depends on whether you’re an apple or a pear!

If you carry excess weight on your hips we call you pear-shaped, while if you have it around your tummy, you’re apple-shaped.

Studies have shown that ‘apples’ could face a greater risk of heart disease than their pear-shaped friends – so if that’s you, it’s even more important to lose weight for your heart health.

Are you pear-shaped or apple-like?

You can find out whether you’re an apple or a pear by measuring your waist size. Just find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips, and measure round your middle at a point halfway between them (for many people this will be over their tummy button).

To keep your risk of heart disease down, try to keep your waist measurement below 102cm (40in) if you’re a man or below 88cm (35in) if you’re a woman. Again, these figures are slightly different for those with a South Asian background: men need to try to keep their waist measurement below 90cm (35in), and women below 80cm (32in).

Slim slowly but surely

It’s better to lose weight slowly. Aim to lose 5 to 10% of your current weight over six months, with regular goals of a healthy one to two pounds (0.5 to 1kg) off per week.