Measuring your waist size or working out your Body Mass Index (BMI) are two simple ways to check whether your weight or body shape are putting your health at risk.
If you are overweight, your body cannot use insulin as well as it should. This could mean your diabetes is not as well controlled as it could be. Carrying extra weight around your middle also increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
People carrying weight around the middle are often referred to as apple-shaped, whereas those carrying weight around their hips are pear-shaped. People that are ‘apple-shaped’ have greater health risks compared with those that are ‘pear shaped’, even if they are both overweight.
Measuring your waist is a way of finding out whether you are an ‘apple’ or ‘pear’ shape.
To measure your waist:
1. Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone.
2. Breathe out naturally.
3. Place the tape measure mid way between these points (for many people this will be the tummy button).
4. Check your measurement using the table below to see if you are at risk of ill health.
Increased risk High risk
European men ≥ 94 cm (37 inches) ≥ 102cm (40 inches)
European women ≥ 80 cm (31.5 inches) ≥ 88cm (34.5 inches)
Asian Men ≥ 90 cm (35 inches)
Asian Women ≥ 80 cm (31.5 inches)
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is based on your height and weight and can be worked out using a BMI chart.
To work out your BMI
Use the table below to see which category/risk level you fit in:
European Adult Asian Adult
Underweight Up to 18.4kg/m2 Up to 18.4kg/m2
Healthy weight 18.5-24.9kg/m2 18.5-22.9kg/m2
(increased risk) 25-29.9kg/m2 23-27.4kg/m2
(high risk) Greater than 30kg/m2 Greater than 27.5kg/m2
If you are at increased risk, think about what you can do to reduce your waist size and weight. Perhaps now would be a good time to make healthy lifestyle changes. Changing food choices and becoming more physically active could help you to lose weight and reduce your risk.
Research has shown a 5-10 % weight loss can help the following:
Losing weight involves making permanent changes to what you eat and drink and increasing your level of activity. To be able to do this you may need help and support from friends and family. Read our section on losing weight to help you get started.