While most people that are concerned with their weight focus on the scale, another measure is also very important—waist circumference. Obviously, the scale will tell you information about your total weight, but how your weight is distributed is also important. Excess weight distributed around your waist is linked to many obesity-related diseases including Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes Mellitus, and Heart Disease.
How do you know if your waist is too large? A waist circumference measurement of greater than 40 and 35 inches for men and women, respectively, is considered to be less than ideal. Importantly, your waist circumference is generally not the same as your pant size. Using a tape measure, a waist measurement should be obtained at the level of your belly-button, where your waist is largest. Make sure it’s not too tight and that it is parallel with the floor. Do not hold your breath while measuring it! Please ask a staff member if you want help getting a waist measurement.
Exercise and eating fewer calories are key to losing weight and keeping it off long term. Stepping on the scale and measuring your waist circumference periodically are two easy methods to evaluate your progress toward achieving your weight loss goals.
Patrick Savage, MS, is a Senior Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation at the University of Vermont Medical Center.