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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