Waist circumference: what diseases are associated with its increasing?


Waist circumference measurement is a technique to assess the risk of developing certain health conditions. In other words, by determining your waist size, your doctor can anticipate the possibility of diseases (1, 2).

This measurement is important because it is helpful to know how much fat is accumulated around the waist. And more than weight, it is abdominal fat that can be a risk factor for the development of serious diseases. When you have a large measurement, it increases the likelihood that there is also excess fat in your organs (3, 4).

That is why relying on weight alone may not be enough. It is possible for a person to have a healthy weight according to their Body Mass Index (BMI); however, they may have excess abdominal fat. On the other hand, athletic and muscular people may be classified as obese or overweight and have a low level of abdominal fat (4).

How is waist circumference measurement performed?

To make a correct measurement, follow these steps (1, 5):

  1. Take a tape measure and stand up straight.
  1. Place the tape measure around your waist, just between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips. This usually corresponds to a point just above your belly button.
  1. Make sure the tape measure is snug but not too tight.
  1. Relax and inhale and exhale as much air as you can.
  1. Take the measurement in centimeters or inches, according to your preference.
  1. Ideally, this measurement should be taken on bare skin; however, if this is not possible, use thin clothing.

What is the normal waist circumference for women?


The reference values to know if you have a healthy waist measurement are (1, 5):

  • Any value below 80 cm (31.5 inches) means low risk.
  • A measurement that is between 80 and 88 cm (31.5 and 34.6 inches) means high risk of developing chronic diseases.
  • If the value is above 88 cm, i.e. 34.6 inches, the risk is very high.

These reference values indicate that depending on the level of fat in the waist circumference, it may increase the risk of developing health problems such as (4, 6):

  • Heart diseases.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Stroke.
  • Certain types of cancer such as lung, laryngeal, esophageal and breast cancer; especially, during the menopause.

How to avoid fat accumulation around the waist during menopause?

The key to maintaining a normal waist circumference is healthy living. Here are some tips on how to achieve this.

Eat healthily

If you want to have a healthy waist circumference, the first thing you should do is to adopt a balanced diet. This means eating more fruit and vegetables; also, include in your diet quality proteins such as chicken, fish, turkey, eggs or legumes; some carbohydrates, preferably wholegrain; calcium-rich foods such as milk, yoghurt and kale, as well as foods that provide omega 3 6 9 fatty acids. Of course, don't forget that quantities and proportions are also important (7, 8).

Keep physically active

The benefits of exercise are not only for your physical health but also for your mental health. Try to include weight-bearing activities where your feet and legs support your weight, such as walking, running or dancing. With exercise you can speed up your metabolism and burn calories. This can translate into a reduction of centimeters around your waist.

Include relaxing activities to reduce your waist circumference

Try activities that get you moving or are relaxing, such as yoga, pilates and tai chi. The latter activity of low-impact meditative movement and deep breathing can help reduce your waistline. Therefore, these disciplines not only provide benefits for the mind but also for the body (8, 9).

Limit tobacco and alcohol consumption

Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are associated with waistline fat accumulation. However, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption have a positive impact on this measure by reducing the accumulation of abdominal fat. This change in habits also improves metabolism, while reducing the risk of related diseases and promoting a healthier body composition (7, 8).

Get plenty of rest to maintain normal waist circumference levels

Good rest also plays a crucial role in waistline fat loss. Maintaining proper sleep hygiene not only helps you avoid overeating, it also gives you the energy you need to exercise (8, 9).

With these tips you can have a healthy measurement during menopause. What are you waiting for to get started?

If you liked this article you may be interested in reading about oral health and low self-esteem during menopause.

Bibliographical references

  1. Heart Research UK. Healthy tip: Measure your waistline . Leeds, England: Heart Research UK; s.f. . Disponible en: https://heartresearch.org.uk/ht-waistline/
  1. Phillips M. Abdominal girth . Bethesda, United States: Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine; 2021 . Disponible en: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003938.htm
  1. BHF. Why your waist size matters . London, England: British Heart Foundation; s.f. . Disponible en: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/measuring-your-waist
  1. NHS. BMI healthy weight calculator . Leeds, England: National Health Service; 2023 . Disponible en: https://elht.nhs.uk/services/dietetics/body-measuring-techniques
  1. ELHT. Body measuring techniques . Blackburn, England: East Lancashire Hospital, National Health Service Trust; s.f. . Disponible en: https://elht.nhs.uk/services/dietetics/body-measuring-techniques
  1. Lee, K.R., Seo, M.H., Do Han, K. et al. Waist circumference and risk of 23 site-specific cancers: a population-based cohort study of Korean adults. Br J Cancer . 2018; 119: 1018–1027 . Disponible en: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-018-0214-7
  1. NHS. Kickstart your health . Leeds, England: National Health Service; s.f. . Disponible en: https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/
  1. NHS. Menopause: Things you can do . Leeds, England: National Health Service; 2022 . Disponible en: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/things-you-can-do/
  1. Garrard C. 12 ways to beat menopausal belly fat . New York: Everyday Health; 2022 . Disponible en: https://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause-pictures/ways-to-beat-menopausal-belly-fat.aspx