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ARCHIVED - Canadian Guidelines for Body Weight Classification in Adults

Warning This content was archived on June 24 2013.

Archived Content

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The Canadian Guidelines for Body Weight Classification in Adults is an update of the weight classification system that has been in use in Canada since 1988. The Guidelines describe a body weight classification system used to identify health risks associated with body weight in individuals and in populations. They are aligned with the World Health Organization's recommendations widely adopted internationally.

The system uses two measures to indicate health risks: the body mass index (BMI) and the waist circumference (WC). BMI is an indicator of health risk associated with underweight and overweight, and WC is used as an indicator of health risk associated with abdominal obesity.

The updated system applies only to Canadians age 18 years and over. It is not intended for use with women who are pregnant or lactating.

The technical report and Quick Reference tool are intended for health professionals, researchers and educators. Questions and Answers for Professionals and for the Public provide more information about the Guidelines.


For quick determination of BMI, refer to the Body Mass Index calculator.


Health Canada commissioned background papers to provide the rationale and scientific evidence to support the review and update of the weight classification system.

Should the 1988 Canadian Guidelines for Healthy Weights be Updated? (2000)

Since the 1988 Canadian Guidelines for Healthy Weights were produced there has been a dramatic increase in research and information in this area. This paper considers the impact of this new information on the 1988 guidelines.

The Guidelines were developed by Health Canada with guidance from an Expert Working Group consisting of Canadian researchers and practitioners with relevant expertise. Visit Appendix 7.2 of the technical report for the list of members of the Expert Working Group. A consultation with key stakeholders in the fall of 2002 provided valuable feedback and further enhanced the development of the report.