How to prepare your weighing scales for accurate use

  • Always position the scale where there is easy access and on a hard flat surface (carpet is not suitable).
  • Press the scale to wake it and wait for the display reader to stabilise back to zero. The scale is now ready to use.
  • You can view a video on how to calibrate your digital scales here.  
  • Check for problems and consider repairing or replacing your scales if:
    • The display reader does not repeat itself every time the same weight is applied (Method: when the display reader has stabilised at zero place an item of a known weight, for example a 1 kg bag of sugar, on the scale and check that the display reader indicates 1 kg or 2.2 lbs).
    • The weight changes when you lean forward, then backward.
    • The display reader does not start on zero before weight is applied.
  • Moving the scale to a storage place can interfere with its weighing ability and deliver inaccurate results. Therefore, always repeat the above preparation (calibration).

How to measure your weight accurately

  • If you are wearing clothing, opt for light clothing without footwear. Remember to wear the same clothing for future weight measurements.
  • Step onto the scale and stand as still as possible.
  • Avoid touching any of your surroundings for balance, such as a wall, sink or walking stick. If you are unable to stand unsupported you may require a specialist form of scale.
  • Keep an ongoing record of your measurements to monitor progress.
  • When repeating the measurement, use the same scale, at the same time of day (for example first thing on a morning after urination and before fluids/food). Once per week is usually sufficient frequency.
  • You can view an additional instructional video here. 

How to calculate your BMI using your weight (in kilograms) and height (in centimetres)

BMI chart for adults.png

Underweight (BMI of less that 18.5) - Normal (BMI of 18.5 - 250 - Overweight (BMI of 25 - 30) - Obese (BMI of 30 and above)

World Health Organization 2004 guidance on BMI thresholds

White European populations

Asian populations


Less than 18.5 kg/m² Less than 18.5 kg/m² underweight
18.5 – 25 kg/m² 18.5 – 23 kg/m² increasing but acceptable risk
25–29.9 kg/m² 23–27.5 kg/m² increased risk
30 kg/m² or higher 27.5 kg/m² or higher high risk




General guidelines for use of a measuring tape to complete body circumferences
  • Ideally measure on bare skin without clothing, if this is not possible measure wearing one thin layer of clothing.
  • The measuring tape should sit neatly against your skin but not too tight that it causes an indent or digs in.
  • For neck, chest / bust, waist, hips, and mid upper leg body measuring keep the measuring tape parallel to the ground.
  • For waist and hip measuring stand up straight with shoulders back, position tape, inhale then fully exhale, fully relax abdomen, then take measurement.
  • Perform measurements twice to improve accuracy.
  • Keep an ongoing record of your measurements to monitor progress, every two weeks is usually sufficient frequency.
What should your waist circumference be?





White European, black African, Middle Eastern and mixed origin


< 94 cm (37 inch)

94–102 cm (37-40 inch)

> 102 cm (40 inch)


< 80 cm (31.5 inch)

80–88 cm (31.5-34.6 inch)

> 88 cm (34.6 inch)

African Caribbean, South Asian, Chinese and Japanese origin


< 90 cm (35.4 inch)


> 90 cm (35.4 inch)


< 80 cm (31.5 inch)


> 80 cm (31.5 inch)


How to measure your waist circumference

1. Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips and place the tape measure around your middle at a point halfway between them (usually just above the belly button).

2. Breathe out naturally and take your measurement. 

3. Watch the video instructions from Diabetes UK here. 


How to measure your hip circumference

1. Stand straight with legs together

2. Position the tape measure around the widest part of your hip

3. Breathe out naturally then take the measurement


How to measure your chest / bust circumference

1. Wrap the tape measure under your armpits at the fullest part of your chest. Stand straight and don’t puff out chest

2. Watch the video instructions here.  Or this one which includes bust, waist and hips.


What should your mid upper arm circumference be?

If MUAC is > 32.0 cm then your BMI is likely to be >30 kg/m2 (therefore classed as obese).

How to measure your mid upper arm circumference

1. Hang your arms loosely by your side

2. Find the tip/point of your shoulder on the non-dominant side and then mark with a cross

3. Flex arm to 90 degree angle and mark the tip of your elbow with a cross

4. Using a measuring tape, measure directly from one cross to the other and mark the halfway point between these points

5. With your arm now relaxed and by your side, wrap the measuring tape around this midway point in order to obtain the measurement for your mid-upper arm circumference


How to measure your mid-thigh circumference (thigh girth)

1. Stand in a relaxed position with your weight evenly distributed on both feet

2. In order to identify the length of the upper thigh, first find the hip bone and mark with a pen

3. Next find the knee bone and mark with a pen

4. Using a tape measure, find the mid-point between the hip and knee bone and mark with a pen

5. Wrap the measuring tape around this midway point in order to obtain the measurement for your mid-thigh circumference

6. Video instructions: can be found​​​ or

How to measure your neck circumference

1. Place the tape measure around your neck about an inch below your larynx (Adam’s Apple in males)

2. Place two fingers between the tape measure and your neck

3. Video instructions: and for women


Suggestions for weighing scales


Price (correct on 24/06/2020)

Weight capacity

Features beyond weight

Weight Watchers Precision Glass Electronic Scale - Silver

Argos £15 + £3.95 delivery  (free for collection)

182kg/ 28st 8lb



Salter large display body analyser

Wilko £25 + £5 postage

Salterhousewares  £24.99 +free delivery

180kg/ 28st 5lb


Body fat, body water, muscle mass, bone mass, BMI, BMR

Easy read display

Large platform

Carpet feet

Beurer BF180 Diagnostic Glass Body Analyser Scale £19.99 + free delivery

Wowcher £17.99 +£4.99 delivery

180kg/ 28st 5lb

Body fat, body water, bone mass, muscle mass, BMI, BMR

Large blue illuminated display

Overload indicator

Aidapt talking scales

Mobility Smart  £24.89 +£3.95 delivery

180kg/28st 5lb

Talking scales

Fitbit Aria Air Bluetooth Smart Scale


Argos £50 +£3.95 delivery

Amazon £39.99 + free delivery

EBay £40 - £54

180kg/28st 5lbs


Syncs into Fitbit smart watches and trackers

Weight Watchers Blue tooth Digital Body Analyser Scales

Argos £50 + £3.95 delivery

WWUK £40 +free delivery

182kg/28st 8lb

Body fat, body water, muscle mass, BMI

Back lit display

Connects to iPhone or Android device

Salter Curve Bluetooth Smart analyser

Argos £50 + £3.95 delivery  (free for collection)

200kg/31st 6lb

Body fat, body water, bone & muscle mass, BMI, BMR.

Large backlit reading display – connects to smart devices

Salter Max Capacity 

Amazon £24.99 + free delivery

250kg /39st 5lb

Large display

Carpet feet

Salter Max Body Analyser Scale 

Argos £35 + £3.95 delivery

Salterhousewares  £39.99 +free delivery

250kg /39st 5lb

Body fat, body water, bone & muscle mass, BMI, BMR

Large platform

My Weigh XL-550 High Capacity Talking Digital Bathroom Scale

Amazon £50.59 + free delivery

250kg /39st 5lb

XL platform

Talking scales



  • Base/platform –
    • check for sturdiness and stability,
    • suitability for carpet or only hard floor
    • strengthened glass models as opposed to plastic 
    • measurements for wider surface area which can be useful for balance and larger feet
  • Readability of display –
    • visually impaired may consider talking scales or a model that is back-lit with a larger display area particularly useful if your over hang prevents you from seeing the display
  • Do you want information beyond weight, such as Body Mass Index, Basal Metabolic Rate, body fat, body water, bone, mass, muscle mass and even progress reports
  • Capacity – ensure the scales are fit for purpose in that they have enough capacity for your weight
  • When buying online check delivery costs and the return policy in case you change your mind – some retailers offer free delivery and returns
  • It might be worth checking the length of warranty of the product you buy – this can vary between 12 months to 15 years
Suggestions for tape measures


Price (correct on 24/06/2020)


Tailors Tape Measure 2 pack

Poundland  store £1


150cm/60 inches

Tailors tape style

Prym Waist Tape measure

Amazon £4.61 + £4.99 delivery

Minerva £4.59 + £2.99 delivery

150cm/60 inches 

Tailors tape style

Easy reading attachment

Body Tape measure

TRIXES on Amazon £3.49 + free delivery


Multipurpose; measures any part of body (arm, thigh, chest, waist hips and more)

Curved design


Waistchecker  measuring tape £5.99 + free delivery

150cm/60 inches

Specifically for weight loss monitoring

Separate side for men and women

Colour coded

66fit Body Mass Index Tape Measure - BMI Waist Weight Health Measurement

Amazon £8 +£2.75 delivery

EBay £8 + £2.70



BMI estimator

Colour coded

Extra-long 3m/10ft body tape measure

Fabulouz  on Amazon £2.49 + free delivery


Tailors tape style


Hemline on Amazon £3.33 + free delivery



Prym 300 cm/ 120-inch cm/inch Spring Tape Measure Jumbo

Quilted Bear Ltd on Amazon £4.78 + free delivery



Considerations (there many more choices available online, in supermarkets, retail outlets and high streets shops):
  • Price – most will be fit for purpose but you may prefer the extra features of being retractable, colour coded, specifically for body measurements, easy read attachment.
  • Length capacity – needs to be fit for purpose – 150cm/60 inches is the most common but 300cm/120 inches are available
  • Easy to read – clear marking and numbers
  • Metric/ imperial or both.
  • Durability – most commonly made from fibre glass but some are made from fabric or plastic