Does your waist circumference matter more than your weight?

BMI versus Waist Circumference

You get your BMI calculated as a part of physical exam, whenever you visit a doctor. It is an important predictor of your health status. BMI measures whether you are a healthy weight for your height. Normal BMI for adults is considered to be between 18.5- 24.9. Although a good predictor but BMI is often not the true reflection of one’s health because it does not undertake the consideration of weight difference because of body fat vs muscle. So how important is waist measurement in predicting your risk for cardiovascular disease. There is more and more evidence emerging that it matters where your fat is stored. Waist circumference determines your risk of several diseases like diabetes, hypertension, fatty liver disease, heart disease.

A 2015 study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that people with normal BMI but higher waist circumference (central obesity) had greater health risk compared to someone with similar BMI but normal waist circumference.

So what is considered a normal waist circumference

Men should have waist circumference of 40 inches or less

Women should have waist circumference 35 inches or less

There are some ethnic differences in waist measurements, see the chart below. Its low cost and easy to measure. See the chart on how to measure your BMI.


Get to Healthy Waist Circumference

Now that you know the importance of waist circumference and how to measure it, let’s review some key points on how to decrease your waist circumference and in turn also lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

As always what you put in your body is most important. Focus more on lower carb, fiber rich and high protein foods. Avoid drinks with added sugar like soda, energy drinks, fruit juices, avoid processed food, avoid refined carbs like white rice, white bread in your diet.

Add more vegetables and fruits to your diet, along with protein and fiber. There have been several studies proving that lower carb diet has significant weight loss and over all metabolic benefits.

Try to reduce stress. I know it’s not easy, but we can introduce some activities like meditation, yoga, a hobby, exercise, family time to reduce stress. Studies have shown that stress increases levels of cortisol which in turn cause abdominal fat deposition.

Exercise, combine both cardio and strength training routines. try to get minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity every week.

Limit alcohol intake. A study published in European journal of Nutrition found that increased alcohol consumption leads to increased risk of central obesity.

Intermittent fasting helps with reduction in central obesity and improvement in insulin resistance. popular place to start is 16 hour daily fast for 14 days.

Last but not the least, quality sleep time. At least 7 hours of restful sleep every night can improve your metabolic health and aid in weight loss.

Above are some of the lifestyle changes that can help you shed that belly fat and reduce of risk of diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome.