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Calculators: Measuring Your Waist Size


Use a soft (cloth, plastic, or paper) tape measure to assess your waist size. Pull up or remove your shirt and lower the waistline of your skirt, shorts or pants, if needed, so that your middle is exposed. Stand in front of a mirror, if possible, to make sure you’re positioning the tape measure correctly.


Press your fingers into your torso near the right side of your waist. Push your fingers into your skin to find the bony pelvis. Keep pushing and moving your fingers along the edge of the hip bone until you find the top curve of the bone. This spot is known as the iliac crest. The highest point will be located on the side of your torso, just underneath the lower portion of your ribcage. Generally, this spot will be at around the same level as your bellybutton, and near, or at, the narrowest part of your torso.


Position the tape measure horizontally at this spot at the top of your hip bone. Then circle it around your abdomen and entire torso. Make sure that the tape lies horizontal on all sides of your torso. Place the end of the tape measure which reads “0” at the spot on the tape where the loop circles your waist completely.


Avoid sucking in your gut. Stand up straight and exhale gently as you pull the tape so that it stays taut against your body, but make sure it is not squeezing into your skin. Look at the number at the point where the “0” end of the tape intersects around your waist. This is your waist measurement.


A waist size of >40 inches (>102cm) for men, and a waist size of >35 inches (>88 cm) for women is considered high-risk. A high number may indicate that you have excess fat in your abdominal area. If your BMI is 25 or higher, this can increase your risk of certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia (uncontrolled cholesterol), high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

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