Being overweight increases your risk of having an ischaemic stroke by 22%. If you’re obese your risk increases by 64%. So it’s very important to try and maintain a healthy weight.


Being overweight puts you at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, all of which increase your risk of a stroke. 

It’s not just how much weight you carry, but how you carry it as well. If carry your extra weight around your waist you are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes or other health problems, so it’s even more important to make sure you’re a healthy weight.

Studies in England have shown that South Asian people and some black African and black Caribbean people (women in particular) are more likely to carry weight around their waist. 

What weight should I be?

It’s best to talk to your doctor about the weight you should aim to be, as it’s different for everyone.

Calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) can be a good way to check if you're a healthy weight. It takes into account that people come in different shapes and sizes, by comparing your weight against your height. NHS Choices has a BMI calculator that can help you work out your BMI or doctor can do it for you. 

How can I lose weight?

The key is to make small, long-lasting changes to your lifestyle. Changing your eating habits so that you start to eat more healthily and becoming more active are the best ways to lose weight.

Your GP or practice nurse can give you advice on lifestyle changes and tell you about weight loss groups or discuss other treatments.

Here are our tips to help you lose weight:

  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Takeaways should only be occasional treats.
  • Choose low fat options for milk, cheese, yoghurt, spreads and salad dressings.
  • Replace some red meat with leaner varieties like chicken and turkey, and remove the skin.
  • Foods can often be high in salt, fat, saturated fat and sugars, so check the labels.
  • Steam, grill, bake, poach or simmer, rather than frying your food.
  • Try to eat only as much as you need. If you eat more calories than your body needs, then the extra energy is usually stored as fat.
  • Use smaller plates and bowls to help control your portion sizes.
  • Try to do some form of exercise every day. This can help you burn off calories or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Watch how much alcohol you drink and try to keep within the recommended amounts.

Find out more

NHS Choices has a 12 week programme that can help you lose weight and get more active. It includes an exercise plan, tips that can help you eat more healthily and online support. 

You’ll also find more information and tips in our leaflets Healthy eating and stroke and Exercise and stroke.