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How to Measure Your Waist

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on November 13, 2021

It’s easy to measure your waist. And it’s not just about your clothing size. Your waist circumference is a clue to whether you're at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. And all you need is a tape measure.

  1. Start at the top of your hip bone, then bring the tape measure all the way around your body, level with your belly button.
  2. Make sure it's not too tight and that it's straight, even at the back. Don't hold your breath while measuring.
  3. Check the number on the tape measure right after you exhale.

For your best health, your waist should be less than 40 inches around for men, and less than 35 inches for women, although it may vary depending on race or ethnicity. If it's larger than that, you may want to talk with your doctor about what your next steps are, including losing weight.

You can’t spot-reduce your waist, or any other part of your body. Crunches will strengthen your abs, but to lose inches around your waist, it will mean eating fewer calories and burning more off through exercise.

Show Sources

SOURCE: 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Obesity Education Initiative: "The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults."

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