What Your Waistline Says About Your Health

Why you should look beyond the number on the scale to get a clear picture of your health

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for a number of different health-related reasons, like reducing your risk for conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.

However, when it comes to getting a clear picture of your overall health and wellbeing, it’s important to consider more than just the number that pops up when you step on the scale.

Its’ also important to look beyond your body mass index (BMI), a figure based on your weight and height that many doctors use to gauge whether or not patients are within a healthy weight range.

As Hemi Weingarten, CEO & Founder of Fooducate, explained in a recent article on Fooducate.com, BMI is an outdated system that has been proven inaccurate because it "does not take into account the body shape of different people. Some people have big frames, others may be stocky. These body types end up obese more than others, even though they are no less healthy.”

The one measurement that can serve as a clear indicator of your health, though, is your waist circumference.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “many experts suggest that waist circumference alone may be used as an indicator of health risk."

By ACSM standards, women with a waist circumference greater than or equal to 35 inches (88cm) and men with a waist circumference greater than or equal to 40 inches (102cm) are at high risk. Women with waist measurements less than 27.5 inches and men with waist measurements less than 31.5 inches are said to be at “very low risk”.

These standards have been established for quite some time, but also serve as an eye-opening reminder following a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that analyzed the waist measurements of 32,816 Americans over the course of about 13 years. The data revealed that the average waist in women grew from 36 inches to 38 inches and from 39 inches to 40 inches in men.

This means that those aiming to lose weight in order to improve overall health should take a few different factors into account when tracking progress because the number on the scale only reveals one small part of a very big overall picture.