How much you weigh is far less important than your shape and your Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a way of relating your weight to your height. If your BMI is over 30 you should definitely try to lose weight.
Body Mass index
Ideally, your Body Mass Index (BMI) should be between 20 and 25, but if yours is a little above this, don't panic. In your middle and later years, it may not be such a bad thing to have a BMI that is slightly over the ideal (say, 26), but the way the extra weight is distributed around your body is a significant factor.
Apple or pear?
Doctors distinguish between apple- and pear-shaped people in assessing the extent to which excess weight might be a health risk.
This means that you tend to store fat around your middle and is most common among men and among women around the time of their menopause and after it is complete.
Apples are known to be at increased risk of a range of illnesses, including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes and are more likely to have raised cholesterol and glucose levels in their blood.
This means that any excess fat tends to be stored around the buttocks and thighs and seems to be associated with lower levels of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Apple and pear shapes seem to run in families because they are largely determined by your genetic make-up, but this doesn't mean there's nothing you can do if you happen to come from a long line of 'apples'!
To find out whether you need to take steps to reduce your waist measurement, check it against your height on the Ashwell Shape Chart.
If your BMI is between 25 and 30 and you are a pear, you could easily find that you come into the OK category for your shape. But if the Ashwell Shape Chart shows you are in the Action category, then you really must take steps to reduce your weight which will, in turn, reduce your waist circumference.
Weight and your health
Being seriously overweight or obese (BMI of over 30) puts considerable strain on your body. Your knee and hip joints are more prone to osteoarthritis as a result of supporting and moving the extra load around. You may find yourself short of breath when making anything but the slightest physical exertion.
Excess weight is a factor in triggering type 2 (or non-insulin dependent) diabetes that normally comes on after the age of 40 because the body stops producing sufficient insulin, the hormone which regulates blood glucose levels or, more often, develops resistance to it.
Coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes are also more common in people who are obese.