Sure, you know the risks of being overweight or obese, but that doesn't mean you have a problem, right? Or maybe you are fully aware that you could stand to lose some weight but are putting off doing anything about it until the summer, your sister's wedding, vacation time, or some other occasion down the road.

How can you tell if you need to lose weight and, if so, is now the right time?

For starters, you need to be honest with yourself about whether your weight is a problem. Don't just go by how snug your clothing feels or when the last time was that you had to go up a size in jeans. Even using those as a gauge, it can still be easy to bury your head in the sand. For example, a survey of New Yorkers found that only 39% of obese adults described themselves as such.

There are some concrete measures to tell whether your weight is putting you at risk for health problems.

  • BMI (body mass index): Your BMI is calculated based on your weight and height, and determines whether you are underweight, at a healthy weight, or are overweight or obese. Don't know your BMI? Ask your doctor or use our BMI calculator.
  • Waist circumference: Don't think your BMI is an accurate reflection of how healthy your weight is? For a few people, it isn't. If you have a high proportion of muscle, your BMI may define you as overweight even if your weight isn't actually a problem. Or, your BMI may say you're at a healthy weight, when in fact, you are carrying a high proportion of dangerous belly fat. For women, waist circumference should be below 88 cm (35 inches), while for men, it should be below 102 cm (40 inches).

The cold, hard numbers don't lie. But even if you know your weight is a problem, do you have to take action now? In a word, Yes!

While you may have the best intentions in the world to start a weight loss plan some time in the not-too-distant future, there really is no time like the present.

It may seem harmless to "weight it out a little" but if you don't take action now, you run the risk of gaining even more weight. According to a report, once people are overweight, their weight is more likely to keep increasing, eventually pushing them into obesity territory. The report found that almost one quarter of adult Canadians who were considered overweight were found to be obese 8 years later. In comparison, only 10% of those who were overweight were at a normal weight after the same time period.

Through adulthood, many people slowly gain small amounts of weight, even as little as a pound or so a year. That may not seem like much, but over time it can add up - turning a little excess poundage into a "growing" problem.

Need another reason to maintain a healthy weight? A loss of 5% to 10% of your body weight along with 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can reduce your risk of diabetes by almost 60%.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team