How Is Waist Measured?

Medically Reviewed on 4/13/2022
Waist size is one of the indicators of good health.
Waist size is one of the indicators of good health.

Waist size is one of the indicators of good health. If your goal is to stay fit, waist measurement forms an important part of your evaluation.

Although measuring your waist is easy, here are the steps that will ensure that you get the most accurate measurement each time:

  • Remove all layers of clothing that are blocking your waist. The tape should rest against your bare stomach.
  • Stand up straight. Locate the bottom of the last rib and the top of your hip bone. Rest the tape against the narrowest area between these two points and circle the whole body with it. The narrowest area is soft and fleshy on the touch and is often located a little bit above your belly button.
  • Make sure the tape is straight and not twisted (check especially at the back). It should not compress the skin anywhere along its course.
  • Ensure that the tape is at the same level horizontally behind and in the front.
  • Breathe normally while you are standing straight and measure the circumference of your waist just after you exhale.
  • Repeat the measurement thrice, and if two or three of them are different, take the average of the three for higher accuracy.

For your best health, your waist should be less than 40 inches around for men, and less than 35 inches for women, although it may vary depending on race or ethnicity.

What is the best time to measure your waist?

Your waist size is not static. It will change several times during the day. Hence, the best time to measure your waist is in the morning on an empty stomach, before you eat or drink anything. It would be better if you measure it after you have emptied your bowels. If not, measurements should be taken under the same circumstances (physical condition) each time.

How does waist size affect your health?

Your risk of some health problems is affected not only by your weight and body mass index (BMI) but also by the area where your body fat is mostly stored.

A higher waist size means that you have a high accumulation of fat around your belly area. This is known as central obesity. The fat around your belly region is mostly visceral fat, which gets deposited over your abdominal organs.

Carrying too much fat around your middle (waist) is bad because that puts you at risk for chronic conditions such as:

Research has found that adults with a large waist size are at a higher risk of dying early (premature death) than those with normal waist size.

As per a study that observed data from 650,000 adults, higher waist size can considerably reduce a person’s life expectancy.


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How to reduce waist size?

Reducing waist size will need persistent efforts from you. These efforts should be targeted toward incorporating a few modifications in your diet and lifestyle.

  • Exercise for at least
    • 30 minutes for 5 days a week.
    • 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of more vigorous exercise per week.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Ditch the processed and packaged foods.
  • Reduce your portion size. Eat less on days when you are not exercising at all or not exercising enough.
  • Pay attention to hydrating yourself with plenty of water instead of reaching for unhealthy, sugar-loaded options, such as sodas.

You can consider contacting a qualified nutritionist who can help you figure out a diet plan suitable to your personal and professional life. You can also take the help of a fitness expert who can help you decide on workouts that target your belly fat.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/13/2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Assessing Your Weight.

Weight Loss. Is it true that waist size can be a predictor of life expectancy? Mayo Clinic.