Waist Circumference and Waist to hip ratio

More than 60 years ago, the French physician Jean Vague observed that people with larger waists had a higher risk of premature cardiovascular disease and death than people who had trimmer waists or carried more of their weight around their hips and thighs. (1) Decades later, long-term follow-up studies showed that so-called “abdominal obesity” was strongly associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death, even after controlling for body mass index (BMI).

The two most common ways to measure abdominal obesity are waist circumference and waist size compared to hip size, also known as the waist-to-hip ratio. Several organizations have defined cut-points for abdominal obesity around one or both of these measurements, with different cut-points for men and women.

In people who are not overweight, having a large waist may mean that they are at higher risk of health problems than someone with a trim waist.

Use a measuring tape to measure your waist just above the belly button and the circumference of your hips – at the widest part of your buttocks. Enter your measurements to get the results.

Interpret the results with help of this chart


Organization Measurement used Definition of abdominal obesity
American Heart Association, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (10) Waist circumference Women: > 88 cm (35 inches), Men: > 102 cm (40 inches)
International Diabetes Federation (11) Waist circumference Women: > 80 cm (31.5 inches), Men: > 90 cm (35.5 inches)Different cut-points for different ethnic groups
World Health Organization (12) Waist-to-hip ratio Women: > 0.85, Men: > 0.9