Topic Overview

Your waist size can be an important measure of health.

Waist circumference

Waist circumference is an indirect indicator of intra-abdominal fat tissue, often called visceral fat. A large waist circumference is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease because of excess abdominal fat.

To measure your waist circumference, place a tape measure around your body at the top of your hip bone. This is usually at the level of your belly button. You are at increased risk for health problems if you are:footnote 1

  • A man with a waist measurement greater than 102 cm (40 in.).
  • A woman with a waist measurement greater than 88 cm (35 in.)

Related Information



  1. Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Health Canada (2003). Canadian Guidelines for Body Weight Classification in Adults. Ottawa: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (Health Canada). Available online:


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Colleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015