Why is waist size important?

Huma U. Sheikh, MD
One of the reasons that it can be important is that waist circumference has been found to be a risk factor for stroke.  This is thought to be because belly fat is especially thought to be an indicator for inflammation, as opposed to fat in other regions of the body.
While waist size is important regarding your current health condition and a risk factor for health concerns, waist size measurement can be an effective tool in a fitness program, as well.

A decreasing waist size can provide a more accurate assessment of your fitness and health and, rather than relying on weight loss only.  When we exercise on a consistent basis, we will experience some initial weight loss, but we are also transforming our body fat into healthy lean muscle mass, which causes weight loss to slow. That can lead to a perception of not meeting our weight-loss goals. 

Recognizing and working toward a shrinking waistline, (clothes feeling loose around the waist/hips) gives us a much better picture of our true overall body fitness and accomplishment, and in turn improving health.
The circumference of your waist may trump body-mass index (BMI) or body weight to gauge your risk for developing diabetes, especially if you’re a woman. According to a study published by PloS Medicine, non-obese people with large waists are at a higher risk for the disease. A large waist is 35 inches or more in a woman, for men, 40. Get out the tape measure, then get to the gym.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Having lots of belly fat can be very bad for your health, but many Americans don't know why. Find out the answers as Dr. Oz explains in this video.

Continue Learning about Evaluating & Measuring Fitness

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.