Healthy Weight

Last reviewed on 23/03/2016 14:11

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for good health. Workplaces can help employees to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight by encouraging physical activity and healthy eating in the workplace. In turn, this can improve the health of employees, reduce sickness absence and increase productivity.

What is 'healthy weight'?

  • What is healthy weight?
  • The importance of healthy weight
  • How to reach a healthy weight
  • What employers can do to promote healthy weight in the workplace
  • Further information on promoting healthy weight

When a person's weight is within a range that is not potentially harmful to their health, this can be called a 'healthy weight'. As demonstrated in the next section on the importance of healthy weight, being outside of this range can have serious health consequences. There are different categories of unhealthy weight, such as 'overweight' and 'obese'.

There are a number of methods that can be used to determine if someone has a healthy weight. While scales are traditionally used to measure weight, they are not a good method of determining if someone has a healthy weight as other factors such as height, gender and body type must be taken into consideration.

The two most effective methods for measuring healthy weight are measuring a person's BMI (Body Mass Index) or measuring their waist circumference.

A person's BMI is their body weight in kilograms, divided by their height in metres, squared. In the section below, further information on promoting healthy weight, you can use the link for the BMI calculator to calculate BMI.

'Overweight' is defined as a BMI of 27.3% or more for women and 27.8% or more for men. 'Obese' is defined as a BMI of 30 or above.

However, BMI is not always the most accurate way of measuring healthy weight because athletes and some very muscular people can have a high BMI without undue health risks.

For this reason, measurinig a person's waist circumference can be a more accurate way of telling if someone has a healthy weight.

  • A healthy waist measurement is below 37 inches/94 cm for men and 32 inches/80 cm for women.
  • The greatest health risks are associated with waist measurements greater than 40 inches/102 cm for men and 35 inches/88cm for women.

The importance of healthy wieght

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can help to prevent and control many diseases and health conditions.

Overweight and obesity bring a higher risk of developing serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and certain cancers. In fact obesity is a leading cause of death and disease worldwide.

On the other hand, maintaining a healthy weight can lower a person's risk of developing these problems, can help a person to feel good about themselves and give them more energy.

For someone who is already overweight or obese, losing weight can bring a number of significant health benefits.

The Scottish Government have reported that in 2010, 65% of adults aged 16 and over were overweight or obese.


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How to reach a healthy weight

Energy balance is important for maintaining a healthy weight. The amount of energy or calories from food and drinks (energy in) is balanced with the energy used by the body for things like breathing, digesting, and being physically active (energy out).

  • The same amount of energy IN and energy OUT over time = weight stays the same (weight maintenance).
  • More energe IN than OUT over time = weight gain.
  • More energy OUT than IN over time = weight loss.

To maintain a healthy weight, energy IN and OUT do not have to balance exactly every day. It is the balance over time that helps a person to maintain a healthy weight.

It is possible to reach and maintain a healthy weight if you:

  • Follow a healthy diet, and if you are overweight or obese, reduce your intaken by 500 calories a day for weight loss.
  • Are physically active.
  • Limit the time you spend being physically inactive.

Employers can encourage staff to reach and maintain a healthy weight by promoting healthy eating and supporting and encouraging staff to do more physical activity.


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What employers can do to promote healthy weight in the workplace

Healthy Working Lives are working in partnership with both Scottish Slimmers and Counterweight to offer weight management classes in the workplace.

By organising one of our weight management classes to come to your workplace, you will be providing staff with a convenient, fun and motivating way to lose weight. You will also be taking a further step towards achieving a Healthy Working Lives Award.

For further information, please contact your local Healthy Working Lives Adviser or call the Healthy Working Lives Adviceline on 0800 019 2211.

Employers who have catering facilities that offer food to staff and/or customers may wish to consider the HealthyLiving Award, which can offer recognition for serving food that enables their customers to eat more healthily.

THe criteria for the Healthy Working Lives Award is in line with the Healthyliving Award, therefore, with a little extra effort, employers can become double award holders.

Further information on promoting healthy weight

BMI Healthy Weight Calculator (external link)

Scottish Slimmers (external link)

HealthyLiving Award (external link)

Counterweight (external link)

Cycling Scotland (external link) National agency promoting cycle use. Site includes information on how your organisation can promote active travel and register for the Cycle Friendly Employer Programme.

Take Life On (external link) Information on healthy eating and physical activity, including easy to follow tips for improving levels of physical activity.

Paths for All (external link) Information on walking for health, including a section on promoting walking to work and in the workplace.

Sustrans (external link) Website of the UK sustainable transport charity, including information on walking and cycling routes and groups across the UK.

Jogscotland (external link) Information on Jogscotland's gentle walking, jogging and running programmes that encourage everyone to get out and be active and general advice on walking, jogging and running.

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