A healthy waist size says much more about someone’s health than their BMI. A high BMI and an excessive waist circumference often go together, but in one-third of cases there is a healthy BMI and yet an increased health risk. How do you measure your waist size and when is it healthy?
Measure hip, waist and waist circumference
You don’t just measure your waist circumference. There is quite a difference in the location of measurement. You often hear about the waist, hip and waist. Most people don’t know exactly which part to measure to discover their waist size.
- Waist: The narrowest part of the abdomen, above the navel.
- Waist: The waist refers to the location of the waist.
- Hip: The widest part below the navel. Women with children have wider hips than other women or men.
For the abdominal circumference, the circumference of the waist is measured. Measuring is done with a measuring tape such as is available in a household store. If you don’t want to buy one, you can also get a free paper measuring tape at the hardware store. It is important that a flexible measuring tape is used: a tape measure or ruler will not work. The abdominal circumference should also be measured during normal exhalation. The abdomen should not be extra expanded and the breath should not be held. For men, the waist is sometimes less visible or palpable. The waist is located between the lower ribs and the hip bone.
A healthy waist size for men
For men, a healthy waist circumference is up to 94 centimeters. Above 94 centimeters there is fat accumulation around the abdominal organs. A circumference of more than 102 cm indicates serious obesity. For men of the Asian race, a healthy waist circumference of up to 90 cm applies. This is because their physique is different; Asian people are also naturally smaller. An apple-shaped figure is often seen in men: the abdomen forms the round apple.
Women: when is there a health risk?
Women have a different healthy waist size than men. This has to do with the fact that the fat percentage is naturally higher in women. A healthy waist circumference for women is less than 80 cm, with no difference compared to Asian women. Above 80 cm there is a slight health hazard. More than 88 cm indicates serious obesity and a high health risk. The pear shape is naturally most common in women: a narrow waist and wide hips. An apple-shaped physique is more harmful to health than a pear-shaped physique.
Fat accumulation around the abdomen versus BMI
Often people only calculate their BMI. BMI can be used to determine whether someone has a healthy weight. But a healthy weight alone does not say everything. Many people have a healthy weight according to their BMI and yet have an increased health risk. This is caused by the storage of abdominal fat. Belly fat even poses a higher risk than a BMI that is too high. That is why it is important to measure the waist circumference. Anyone who has a lot of belly fat will also store fat in other places in the body.
Excessive storage of abdominal fat causes, among other things, an increased risk of:
- Heart and vascular disease
- Cancer (breast cancer, uterine cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer)
- Bone decalcification
- Diabetes mellitus type 2
- Sleep apnea, poor lung function
Belly fat is not immediately visible: fat first accumulates around the abdominal organs. Only when this space is filled with fat does the fat ‘grow’ outwards and become visible as a big belly. In general, as long as the waist circumference is more than 80 cm for women and 94 cm for men, the health risk is not increased. However, there may be fat around the organs. Measuring this requires a more complicated measurement that a good gym can perform. Research shows that measuring abdominal circumference provides an accurate approximation of the amount of fat stored around the abdominal organs, with small deviations per measurement. At least twice a year, everyone should measure their own waist circumference and record it. In this way, serious obesity can be prevented later.
- Calculate fat percentage
- Reduce fat percentage
- Increase fat burning