Your health can be affected by how much you weigh as well as by your body shape. Men often carry their excess weight around their middle, while women often carry their excess weight on their hips and thighs. Carrying excess weight around your middle (being ‘apple-shaped’) is more of a health risk than if your excess weight is on your hips and thighs (being ‘pear-shaped’). Measuring your waist circumference is a simple way to check how much body fat you have.
Why is waist circumference an important number to know?
Waist measurement guidelines increase a person's understanding of their likelihood of developing lifestyle-related chronic diseases. These diseases include cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Measuring waist circumference is also an easy way to tell how much body fat a person has and where it is placed around their body. The following guidelines are based on World Health Organization and National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations.
Increased risk of developing chronic disease
- Adult men: more than 94 cm
- Adult women: more than 80 cm
Greatly increased risk
- Adult men: more than 102 cm
- Adult women: more than 88 cm
Please note that the above waist measurements are recommended for Adult Caucasian men and Caucasian and Asian women with other community groups and ages yet to be determined. For more information visit the Measure up Campaign website.
Find out how to measure your waist circumference and ways to maintain a healthy weight by visiting our healthy eating and active living sections. Discuss your measurements with your doctor and work with them to find the best way to manage your weight concerns.
Body Mass Index
Body mass index, or BMI, is used to judge whether you are underweight, overweight, obese or in a normal weight range for your height. It is useful to know this, and consider alongside waist circumference, as increases or decreases in weight outside the ideal range may increase your health risks.
To learn more about BMI and how to calculator yours, visit our BMI calculator.
Blood pressure varies from moment to moment. It is affected by many factors including body position, breathing, your emotional state, physical activity and sleep. There is no ‘normal’ or 'ideal' blood pressure reading. The following figures should only be used as a guide:
- Normal: Less than 120/80
- High/Normal: Between 120/80 and 140/90
- High: Equal to or more than140/90
- Very High: Equal to or more than 180/110
Find out more on blood pressure by visiting the cardiovascular conditions section.