Waist Circumference – Why It Matters

Waist Circumference – Why It Matters
Natalie Butler, RD, LD

Nearly everyone owns a scale or you at least know your weight. In the past, doctors, dietitians, nurses, health practitioners, and personal trainers all used weight to calculate your BMI, or Body Mass Index. BMI is used to identify if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese or morbidly obese. But it turns out BMI is just not accurate enough to assess for disease risk. It has been found that some people who are classified in just the overweight category have more incidence of chronic diseases even compared to others classified in the obese category. So clearly BMI is not the whole story…

So when was the last time you measured your waist? The measurement of your waist circumference is proving more important than the number on the scale or BMI because it is an independent risk factor for obesity-related conditions like pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. The more weight you carry in your mid-section, the higher your risk of disease. This excessive accumulation of fat in the abdomen is sometimes referred to as being “apple-shaped.” When you are overweight or obese, being “pear-shaped” is the preferred distribution of excessive fat accumulation because it carries a lower risk of chronic disease.

To measure correctly: stand, start at your belly button, and measure all the way around your mid-section (right above your hip bone) after you have breathed out. Do not cinch the measuring tape, just let it lightly rest on the skin (without slack). A flexible tape measure works well and is available at any fabric or craft store.

You are at risk if:
You are a women with a waist circumference greater 35 inches.
You are a man with a waist circumference greater 40 inches.

A high waist circumference means weight loss should be your first priority. The good news is that just 5-10% weight loss can result in major health improvements! In other words, if you weigh 200 pounds currently, a weight loss of 10-20 pounds will make all the difference! In fact, when you make positive lifestyle changes (like adding in 30 minutes of exercise daily and improving your diet) that result in a modest 5-10% weight loss… your risk of type 2 diabetes has just dropped by as much as 58%!

So next time you are at the store, throw a measuring tape in your basket! Measure your waist every 4-8 weeks to see if you are headed in the right direction. In no time, you will not only be losing weight, but you will be improving your long term health!

If you want to lose weight and feel better than you can remember then be sure to check out our 3-Stage Program at

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About the author

Viance Nutrition

Hi! I'm Walt Landi the founder and CEO of Viance Nutrition. Welcome to our Blog. I maintain this Blog as a free resource for anyone wishing to improve their health. Your comments and feedback are always welcomed and you can email me direct at if you have any suggestions. Thanks. Ps. Spread the word and check out our products at :)

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