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Weight Management - Are You at a Healthy Weight?

What's your waist size? continued...

If you are Asian, the goal for a healthy waist is:

  • Less than 36 in. (91 cm) for men.
  • Less than 32 in. (81 cm) for women.
Waist size: What to do

If you are ...

Then ...

In the underweight range on the BMI chart:

See your doctor to find out if you have a medical problem that is causing your low weight.

Within the recommended BMI range and your waist size is within the recommendations:

Your weight is not a problem for your health.

At or above the recommended BMI range and your waist size is higher than recommended:

See your doctor to find out if you have health problems that might be related to your weight.

You may need to change your eating habits and get more active.

In the overweight category on the BMI chart but your waist size is within the recommendations:

Your weight may be right for you. But you need to see your doctor to find out if you have health problems that might be related to your weight.

In the obese category on the BMI chart, no matter what your waist measurement is:

You may need to lose weight to be healthier, as well as change your eating and activity habits.

Your doctor may want to take another measurement, called a waist-to-hip ratio. This measurement is a comparison of your waist size to your hip size. A higher waist-to-hip ratio means that you are more "apple-shaped" than "pear-shaped" and therefore at a higher risk for weight-related disease.

Body fat testing is sometimes used to help find out if a person has a healthy percentage of body fat.

Do you have other health problems?

If you are in the overweight or obese category and your waist size is too high, it's important to talk to your doctor about weight-related health problems you may have, including:

  • High cholesterol.
  • Heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Some forms of cancer, such as colon, breast, and prostate cancers.

If you have two or more of these health problems, your doctor may advise you to make some lifestyle changes and/or lose weight. He or she may also refer you to a dietitian, an expert in healthy eating.

Interactive Tool: Is Your Weight Affecting Your Health Risks?

Are you unhappy with your weight?

If you're at a healthy weight but are still unhappy with your weight, you're not alone. Lots of people are.

It can be hard to be satisfied with how you look when TV and magazines show unrealistic images of what it means to be thin. Here are some things to think about:

  • There is no "ideal" body shape or body size. We let society tell us what "ideal" means. But the way a skinny model looks in a magazine or TV ad is not normal or "ideal."
  • Do you feel good and have plenty of energy? Can you do the activities you want to do? That's what healthy living is all about, no matter what your weight is.
  • Trying to lose weight when you don't have to can actually be bad for you. Most people who diet end up gaining back the pounds they lost—and more.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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