Am I fat?

Worrying you’re fat is common when you’re young and growing and your body is changing all the time. Here’s how to work out whether you’re a healthy weight for your age and size.

feet on scales

Everyone is a different size and weight

How can I tell if I’m fat?

Working out if your weight is ‘OK’ is confusing and there’s lots of conflicting advice online. Your GP is one way to make sure you’re getting good advice.

If you want to work it out yourself, there are two common ways weight is measured:

1) Check your BMI and height/weight

The easiest way to find out if your weight is healthy is to check your BMI using the NHS’s BMI tracker and height/weight chart.

2) Measure your waist

For a grown man, the ideal waist measurement is less than 94cm (37 inches) and for a grown woman it’s 80cm (32 inches). If it’s higher than this, then that does put your health more at risk. Higher than 102cm (40 inches) for a man or 88cm (35 inches) for a woman, is very high.

I checked my BMI and apparently I’m obese. Help!

This is common. Your BMI only takes your weight and height into account, and muscle weighs more than fat. For example, a muscly rugby player will have a high BMI – but that doesn’t mean they’re overweight.

It also makes a difference where your weight sits on your body. People who have more weight around their waist and stomach are more at risk to type 2 diabetes and heart problems than people who have a smaller waist but a big bottom or thighs.

So, do I need to lose weight?

If you’re not technically overweight using the measures we’ve described above, then no, you don’t need to lose weight.

Though eating well and doing regular exercise is still important, no matter what your size is. This is because health isn’t all about how much you weigh – and being skinny doesn’t mean you’re necessarily healthy. In fact, you can be skinny and still have ‘fat’ organs, making you prone to diabetes and heart disease (this is a real fact!).

Eating a balanced diet and taking regular moderate exercise is the best way to stay in shape.

I want to lose weight

If you do want to burn off some excess calories, we recommend doing it through exercise and eating a healthy diet, not dieting alone.

If you really can’t help yourself and love the idea of going on diet, you can find out more about healthy dieting on this article.

Next Steps

  • The Self-Esteem Team (SET) run workshops in schools across the UK to help tackle young people's issues with body image, self-worth and mental health.
  • Through the arts and education Body Gossip, a positive body image charity, aims to empower everyone to fulfil their potential.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


diet| weight


Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Picture of scales and tape measure by Shutterstock.