Being overweight is a significant risk factor for many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement every two years if you are aged under 40 years. If you are older than 40, you should have your weight checked annually
Your waist measurement compares closely with your body mass index (BMI), and is often seen as a better way of checking your risk of developing a chronic disease.
Measuring your waist circumference is a simple check to tell how much body fat you have and where it is placed around your body. Where your fat is located can be an important sign of your risk of developing an ongoing health problem.
Regardless of your height or build, for most adults a waist measurement of greater than 94cm for men and 80cm for women is an indicator of the level of internal fat deposits which coat the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas, and increase the risk of chronic disease.
How to measure your waist
1. Find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs.
2. Breathe out normally.
3. Place the tape measure midway between these points and wrap it around your waist.
4. Check your measurement.
Are these waist measurements suitable for everyone?
Waist measurements should only be used for adults to check their risk of developing a chronic disease. The waist measurements above are recommended for Caucasian men, and Caucasian and Asian women. Recommended waist measurements are yet to be determined for all ethnic groups. It is believed that they may be lower for Asian men.
Along with being overweight or obese, the following conditions will put you at greater risk for heart disease and other conditions:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
- Low HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
- High triglycerides
- High blood glucose (sugar)
- Family history of premature heart disease
- Physical inactivity
- Cigarette smoking
For people who are considered obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30) or those who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) and have two or more risk factors, it is recommended that you lose weight. Even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing diseases associated with obesity. People who are overweight, do not have a high waist measurement, and have fewer than two risk factors may need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight.
Talk to your doctor to see whether you are at an increased risk and whether you should lose weight. Your doctor will evaluate your BMI, waist measurement, and other risk factors for heart disease.
The good news is even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing those diseases.