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Waist Circumference

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Updated February 15, 2014

measuring tape

Your waist circumference can easily be assessed with a normal measuring tape.

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Definition: Waist circumference refers to a numerical measurement of your waist. If you carry fat mainly around your waist, you are more likely to develop health problems than if you carry fat mainly in your hips and thighs (even if your BMI falls within the normal range). When assessing your weight and how it affects your overall health, you and your doctor should also consider your waist circumference.

Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches may have a higher disease risk than people with smaller waist measurements. Those with a high-waist circumference have a greater risk of developing obesity-related health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

To measure waist circumference, place a tape measure around your bare abdomen, hold it parallel to the floor and place it just above your hip bone. Be sure that the tape is snug without compressing your skin. Relax and do not hold your breath as you read the measurement.

Examples: Amy has a waist circumference of 39 inches, which means she is at a higher risk of developing heart disease.

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