What is Waist Circumference?
Waist circumferenceis a measurement taken around the abdomen at the level of the umbilicus (belly button). Health experts use waist circumference to screen patients for possible weight-related health problems. But you can also learn how to measure waist circumference at home.
Why Waist Circumference Matters
Measuring the size of your waist can help you to understand your risk for certain . Waist circumference alone cannot indicate that you have a medical condition or that you'll get one in the future. But it can help you and your health care provider to determine where fat is located on your body and if that fat may cause health problems for you in the future.
How to Measure Waist Circumference
To measure waist circumference correctly, you should use a flexible tape measure that is not elastic. The tape measure should not stretch when you are taking your belly measurement. You should also remove any bulky clothing that can add padding around the abdomen.
Stand up to get an accurate waist measurement. Then, wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your stomach, across your belly button. The tape measure should rest gently on your skin. Once the tape measure is positioned correctly, breathe in gently and then take the measurement on the exhale.
Take the measurement two or three times to make sure you get a consistent result. Holding the tape too tight so that it digs into your flesh, or holding it too loosely so that it droops will cause you to get an incorrect result.
Is My Waist Circumference Normal?
So how does your waist circumference measure up? Use this chart to see if your risk for disease is higher than normal. If your waist measurement is greater than the numbers indicated, your risk for weight-related health problems is higher than normal.
Higher Risk Waist Circumference Measurements
- Men: 40 or more inches or 102 centimeters or more
- Women: 35 or more inches or 89 centimeters or more
Steps to Reduce Your Waist Measurement
The first step to slimming your waist measurement is to evaluate your eating habits. Are you eating more than you need to at mealtime? Do you snack often between meals? Do you consume high-calorie soft drinks or sweetened juice beverages? Do you buy processed foods that are full of empty calories?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you'll have plenty of choices to cut calories from your diet. You may want to start by cutting portion sizes when you eat a large meal. Or if you're not sure how much to eat, use a calorie calculator to estimate your needs. Then count calories to make sure you get the right amount.
Once you've got your diet in line, then increase your activity level to burn more calories all day. Again, use a calorie estimator to find out how many calories you currently burn each day, then add small habit changes to burn a few more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work or go for a walk every evening after dinner. Every step counts in your path to healthy living.
A Word From Verywell
There are many different ways to evaluate your health and your risk for disease. Use waist circumference is just one of them. If you find that yours is higher than you'd like it to be, talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not you need to reduce it and get suggestions for the best ways to improve it. Many times, small changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference in your health. So its important to begin the conversation.
Video: How to measure Waist Circumference
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