For some, the need to lose weight is obvious. Those whose body weight places them in the category of obese or morbidly obese are well aware that they carry a lot of weight. But what about being borderline overweight? Does ten kilos over the ideal weight increase the risk of health complications? Are you just 'big boned'? How do you decide if you really need to lose weight - and how much should you lose? Doctors have many different ways to measure the need to lose weight. Long gone are the years of relying on a 'good weight' insurance card. The most commonly used measurement is the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI measures your weight in relation to your height. This is generally an accurate representation of muscle to fat ratio, although there are some limitations. 1. It may overestimate the BMI of an athletic person because muscle is denser and weighs more than fat. 2. BMI can decrease in older people or in people with less muscle mass. There are many BMI calculators available online that allow you to check your own BMI. The table for determining the risk factors associated with obesity is: Less than 18.5 - underweight 18.5 - 24.9 - Normal 25.0 - 29.9 - Overweight 30.0 and above - Fat If your BMI is greater than 25.0, your doctor or other medical professional can advise you on the best weight loss plan for you. You should know that losing even a moderate amount of weight has many benefits. Some of these include: * Reduce the risk of diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, losing just 10 pounds can reduce a prediabetic person's chance of developing diabetes by 58%. * Reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association says that coronary problems are directly related to weight. By losing weight to bring your BMI into the normal range, you will reduce your risk of developing heart problems. * Reduce the risk of arthritis and arthritis pain. Some forms of arthritis are related to weight. Losing weight will reduce the weight that puts extra weight on your knees, hips, back and ankles. Are you motivated to get started? Here are three ways you can start losing weight today: Activation. If you do nothing more in your life than exercise for half an hour every day, you will lose 5-7% of your body weight every year. Cut the white bread and sugar. Substitute whole grain flours and sugars and you will automatically reduce the number of calories you eat each day. Eat more fresh vegetables. Fresh vegetables, especially raw ones, are an important source of many vitamins and minerals that your body needs every day. They are high in nutrients and low in calories. By increasing the amount of fresh vegetables you eat and reducing the amount of processed, refined foods, you can significantly reduce calories and carbohydrates.