Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Waist Size Predicts Diabetes Risk

Men Should Aim for Waist Size of 37 Inches or Less, Researchers Say
WebMD Health News

March 10, 2005 - A man's waist size may say much more about his risk of developing type 2 diabetes than previously thought.

A new study suggests that a man's waist size is a better indicator of type 2 diabetes risk than other currently used measures, such as waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index (BMI, a measure of weight in relation to height).

Doctors use these measures to estimate a patient's risk of developing type 2 diabetes and advise them how to lower their risk, such as by losing weight and changing their diet.

Current cutoffs say that men should have a waist size of less than 40 inches to help prevent diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

But researchers say the cutoff for a man's waist size may need to be lowered to 37 inches. At that waist size researchers accurately identified more than 80% of the type 2 diabetes cases that developed in a large group of men followed over 13 years.

Waistline Reveals Diabetes Risk

In the study, researchers compared the effectiveness of BMI, waist size, and waist-to-hip ratio in predicting the risk of type 2 diabetes in more than 27,000 men. Results appear in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

All of the men had their BMI, waist size, and waist-to-hip measurements taken when the study began and were then followed for 13 years.

Men who had a waist size of 40 inches or more had the highest risk of type 2 diabetes. These men were 12 times more likely to develop the disease than those with a waist size of 34 inches or less.

Men with a BMI of 25 or more also were significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Researchers say the results suggest that currently recommended cutoffs for estimating type 2 diabetes risk be lowered. Currently those cutoffs are 25 for BMI and 40 inches for a man's waist size.

But the study shows that lower cutoffs identified a significantly greater proportion of the type 2 diabetes cases.

Type 2 diabetes risk rose progressively as waist size climbed above 34 inches:

  • A waist size of 34 to 36 doubled diabetes risk.
  • A waist size of 36 to 38 inches nearly tripled the risk.
  • A waist size of 38 to 40 inches was associated with five times the risk.
  • A waist size of 40 to 62 inches was associated with 12 times the risk.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner