Health Questions and Answers

Question: How significant is waist circumference in diagnosing obesity?

Answer:

Waist circumference can also be used to diagnose obesity. Health risks of obesity are correlated with visceral (abdominal) adiposity. People with larger waist sizes have increased risks of obesity-related disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Waist circumference is determined by placing a tape measure horizontally around the abdomen at the level of the iliac crest. Measurements should be taken at the end of a normal expiration. The tape measure should be snug but not compress the skin. Increased risk of obesity-related disease occurs in men with a waist circumference ≥ 40 inches (102 cm) and women with a waist conference ≥ 35 inches (88 cm). 

Reference: Larson PR, et al: Williams Textbook of Endocrinology, 10th ed. Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders, 2003.

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