According to the National Institutes of Health, a high Waist Circumference (WC) is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and cardiovascular disease when the BMI is between 25 and 34.9. A BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight and a BMI greater than 30 is considered obese. Waist Circumference can be useful for those people categorized as normal or overweight in terms of BMI. Abdominal or Central Obesity is defined as a waist circumference over 40 inches for a male and 35 inches for a female.
Waist circumference reflects the degree of visceral fat in proportion to body fat. Abdominal or Central Obesity may increase the risk of death from all causes as compared to fat accumulations elsewhere in the body. It increases the risk of diabetes, stroke, hypertension, coronary artery disease. Abdominal or Central Obesity is more common among men and postmenopausal women, (women in their reproductive years are more prone to carrying their fat around the hips and thighs). Smokers and Moderate-to-high alcohol intake correlates positively with central obesity and physical activity correlates negatively with central obesity.
For example, an athlete with increased muscle mass may have a BMI greater than 25 – making him or her overweight on the BMI scale – but a Waist Circumference measurement would most likely indicate that he or she is, in fact, not overweight.
Changes in Waist Circumference over time can indicated an increase or decrease in abdominal fat. Increased abdominal fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
To determine your Waist Circumference, locate the upper hip bone and place a measuring tape around the abdomen (ensuring that the tape measure is horizontal). The tape measure should be snug but should not cause compression on the skin.
Posted by Prof. Iris Mercado EdD, CDN
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