What’s Your Waist Size?

Woman measuring waist sizeThe scale and your BMI only tell part of the story, where you carry your weight is even more critical.  You may have heard about the “Apple” or “Pear” shape.  “Apple” shapes carry their extra weight around the abdomen and “pear” shapes carry it around the hips and thighs.  “Apple” shapes have the disadvantage here.

Extra weight around the waistline results in fat deposits around your internal organs such as your heart, liver and pancreas.  These fat deposits interfere with the normal functioning of these organs and result in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, even premature death. Waist circumference is particularly useful for individuals with a BMI of 25-34.

Shockingly, some studies have found that even people who had a normal BMI (>18.5 and <24.9) but had a large waist size were at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

A healthy waist size for women is <35 inches (88 cm) and for men it’s <40 inches (102 cm).

The Asian American Diabetes Initiative at the Joslin Diabetes Center use these target measurements for Asian Americans:

women ≤31.5 inches (80cm) and for men ≤35.5 inches (90cm)


What is your waist size?


Here is how you measure your waist size:

  • Place a tape measure under your clothes around your stomach, above your hip bone.
  • The tape should be snug around your stomach and parallel to the floor.
  • Exhale and measure.






1. Snijder MB, et al. What aspects of body fat are particularly hazardous and how do we measure them? International Journal of Epidemiology. 2006;35:83.

2. Abdominal obesity and risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: Sixteen years of follow-up in US women. Circulation. 2008;117:1658.

3. Janssen I, Katzmarzyk PT, Ross R (2004). “Waist circumference and not body mass index explains obesity-related health risk”. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 79 (3): 379–84. doi:10.1185/030079906X159489

4. Joslin Diabetes Center. Asian American Initiative.  Accessed on February 5, 2012. http://aadi.joslin.org/content/diabetes-asians-asian-americans



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