Health Questions and Answers

Question: How significant is waist circumference in diagnosing obesity?


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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