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Why is my waist size important?

Regardless of your height or body mass index (BMI), you should try to lose weight if your waist is:

  • 94cm (37in) or more for men
  • 80cm (31.5in) or more for women

You're at very high risk of some serious health conditions and should see a GP if your waist is:

  • 102cm (40in) or more for men
  • 88cm (34.5in) or more for women

This is because your risk of getting some health problems is affected by where you store your body fat, as well as by your weight.

Carrying too much fat around your middle (waist) can make it more likely for you to get conditions such as:

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy.

Use our BMI calculator to find out your BMI.

Measuring your waist

Measuring your waist is a good way to check you're not carrying too much fat around your stomach, which can raise your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and stroke.

You can have a healthy BMI and still have too much tummy fat, meaning you're still at risk of developing these diseases.

To measure your waist:

  • find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips
  • wrap a tape measure around your waist, midway between these points
  • breathe out naturally before taking the measurement

Losing weight

Most people who are overweight find that this is because they eat more energy (calories) than they burn.

We put on weight when we regularly put more calories into our bodies than we use. Over time, that extra energy is stored by the body as fat.

If you're trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to eat less and be more active.

Read more information about how to lose weight, including advice on exercise and understanding calories.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 24 September 2019
Next review due: 24 September 2022