Waist measurement

Waist measurement

Waist circumference is a simple check to tell if you are carrying excess body fat around your middle.

Where your fat is on your body can be an important sign of your risk of developing ongoing health problems. Carrying excess body fat around your middle is more of a health risk than if weight is on your hips and thighs.

Regardless of your height or build, for most adults a waist measurement of greater than 94 cm for men and 80 cm for women is an indicator of the level of internal fat deposits which coat the heart, kidneys, liver, digestive organs and pancreas. This can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Waist measurement helps to assess risk by measuring the amount of fat carried around your middle. It can be used along with measuring your body mass index (BMI). Together, these tools give an indication of your risk linked with excess body fat.

Check your waist measurement below, and you think you’re at risk, talk to your doctor or dietitian about what you can do.

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.

Measurements 

  Your health is at risk if your waist size is
Men  Over 94 cm (about 37 inches)
Women Over 80 cm (about 31.5 inches)

These guidelines are based on World Health Organization and National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations.

Who the measurements apply to

Waist circumference is less accurate in some situations, including pregnancy, medical conditions where there is distension of the abdomen, and for certain groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, South Asian, Chinese and Japanese adults. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Waist measurements should only be used for adults to check their risk of developing a chronic disease. 

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