Guadagnare Salute

Epidemiologia e prevenzione delle malattie cerebro e cardiovascolari


Prevention and lifestyle

Overweight and obesity

The body mass index (BMI) and the waist and hip circumference are the most commonly used measurements which takes into account a person’s weight, height and body fat. Accumulation of abdominal fat is harmful, and particularly associated with the development of cardiovascular disease.


The body mass index is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared.



Weight (kg)





Height x Height (m²)


A person:

  • is underweight, if his/her body mass index is less than 18.5 Kg/m²
  • has a normal weight, if his/her body mass index is in the range of 18.5 - 24.9 Kg/m²
  • is overweight if his/her body mass index is in the range of 25 - 29.9 Kg/m²
  • is obese if his/her body mass index is equal to or greater than 30 Kg/m².


BMI (Kg/ m²)


< 18.5


18.5 - 24.9

normal weight

25.0 - 29.9


> 30.0



Waist circumference must be measured just above the belly button. The desirable values are <94cm in men and <80cm in women. 


Excess weight and cardiovascular disease


Excess weight increases the risk of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and diabetes, all factors which increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease such as stroke.


Our body weight depends upon the ratio between energy intake, through nutrition, and energy expenditure. Any unbalanced condition between energy requirements and food intake leads to weight loss or gain: overweight is made possible when the energy intake exceeds the energy expenditure.


To maintain an ideal weight it is essential to follow a healthy and well-balanced diet (reducing fats, alcohol consumption and overall calorie intake) and to do regular physical activity.


The best and safest way to lose weight is slowly and gradually, so that you will not regain lost weight. Weight loss leads to a decrease in blood pressure, glycaemia and LDL-cholesterol, and to an increase in HDL-cholesterol, and therefore to a reduction of cardiovascular disease risk.


Also, losing weight makes you feel better and look more attractive.


© Istituto Superiore di Sanita (ISS)