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Why Should You Measure Your Waistline and How To Do It Correctly?

October 16th, 2009 · 12 Comments ·


Many people, including medical community, focus mainly on weight and more recently on body mass index (BMI) to assess health condition. However, BMI does not account people like athletes or bodybuilders with greater muscle mass. That is why waist-to-hip ratio is more reliable. However, let’s not talk about waist-to-hip ratio this time and just look at waist measurement alone in this post.

In fact, excess abdominal fat is a good indicator that you are at higher risk for certain diseases. However, it is unclear exactly why excess abs fat can negatively impact health. Some study said that fat cells in this area may release more fatty acids into the blood circulation which then affect insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels. The end results are diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.


No doubt, the most accurate way to measure the amounts and types of fat within the belly are to use medical scanning laboratory equipment such as CTs (computed tomography) or MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging). Having said that, these methods may not be practical for most people who want to monitor the measurement periodically because it can be very expensive. Therefore, a simpler method to estimate the amount of abs fat is to measure the waistline.

What I like about waist measurement is that it can be easily done. Here are the steps:

How To Measure Waist?

  1. Stand in front of a mirror, if necessary, to make sure you are positioning the tape measure correctly. A general rule of thumb is to measure about 1 cm below the belly button. That is your waist line.
  2. measuring-waist-correctly.jpg


  3. Stand up straight. Breathe out. Do not hold your breath or tuck in your stomach.
  4. Make sure the measuring tape is not too loose or too tight around your waist.
  5. When you take reading, make sure you are not holding the tape at an angle.

Once you have the figure, here are some general reference on the health conditions with the waist measurement:

Research has determined that the cut-off point where health risks significantly increase for certain diseases is:

  • 40 inches (102 cm) for men
  • 35 inches (88 cm) for women

1 inch is about 2.54 cm.

If you fall above one of those numbers, you should consider shedding the fat.

Bear in mind that age and ethnicity may affect waist size, partly due to genetics. Also, abdominal fat tends to increase with age in both men and women.

If you plan to reduce the fat at your abs by doing only crunches or sit-up, forget about it. You need to do three things – watch your diet, do cardiovascular exercise and weight training. Spot reductions like abs exercise or using those abs toners or even the magic slimming pills are not the surefire ways to your big belly problem.

If you are really keen to find out about your fat loss progress, instead of just measuring the the waistline, measure your body fat too.  Check out the article of 4 Ways To Measure Body Fat.


With determination and hard work, I am sure you can be as good as Ryan Reynolds, if not better.



Category: Health

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12 responses so far ↓
  • Kara // Oct 16, 2009 at 4:11 AM

    1 cm BELOW the belly button? I’m sorry, but NO. No one’s natural waist line is below their belly button.

    Measuring your STOMACH is done below your belly button.

    Your waist measurement should be taken at the narrowest part of your torso – for some people that’s close to their belly button, for some people it can be several centimeters ABOVE the belly button.

  • surfnux // Oct 16, 2009 at 10:59 AM

    Thanks for Sharing man. I lately found that my belly is getting way bigger and another problem is, around my chest up to below the arm, has started to get fatty too. Is that the second place after the belly that will gained fats?

    I really have to start moving my tyre before they burst.

  • foongpc // Oct 19, 2009 at 2:56 PM

    I think those measurements are mainly for Caucasians. What about Asians? Since we are of smaller size, maybe the cut off point are less than 40 inches (for men) and 35 inches (for women)?

  • hairul // Oct 21, 2009 at 6:38 AM

    foongpc : if the cutoff point for Asian man and women are to be reduced.. then we would have an overwhelmingly obese citizen in Asian. :)

    let say reduce asian men – 35 and women – 28..

    whoaaa!! everybody need to start exercise! and hit the gym..! (that includes me.. unfortunately lah)

    after-festive season effect still at large! belly got enlarged by 2-3inches.. haih..

    come..come.. let’s go cycling (static one in the gym)

  • Austin // Oct 21, 2009 at 4:12 PM

    Thanks for clarifying Kara. This goes to show that not all information online is accurate and sometimes misleading.

  • bob // Nov 14, 2009 at 3:52 AM

    Google “waist measurement” and you’ll get 10 different answers. I still don’t know WHERE to measure.

  • megan // Jul 12, 2011 at 4:42 AM

    Measure below your rib cage and above your hip bone to get your waist

  • hmm // Oct 28, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    Seems like people on here are getting where to measure ACTUAL waistline confused with where to measure to make you feel better about being fat. Just because you wear your pants on your hips (or at the narrowest point) does not make that the right location. It just makes you stupid and shows you have issues with your self-image. Stop being ashamed of being a little bigger, and continuously lying to people about your actual waist size. That is the effect of the American image; people are ashamed to be old and/or fat, so they try to lie about both to make themselves feel better. Well, you’re only hurting yourself, because you have begun to believe your lie and aren’t doing anything productive to fix it. I’ve seen people with narrow “wrong-waistline areas”, that wear there pants at their hip area (which they think is their waist) and have a huge muffin top that purtrudes like no other. You telling me that their muffin top is actually healthy because that is not where you measure for waistline and Waist-Hip ratio? Of course a tailor will tell a customer they are smaller than they are, because they want to keep you happy and make the sale. Customers don’t like being told they are fat. Moral of the story is, stop being willingly ignorant to the facts, and start measuring yourself in the right locations so you can start making ACTUAL progress, and stop lying to yourself.

  • shersaini // Jul 19, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    The article is CORRECT as to where to measure the waistline. I’m sorry to say but KARA you are wrong on this one. According to national guidelines you are suppose to measure just above the point of your hip bone known as the Illiac Crest this is where the top part of the hip bone ends. This point is usually around the belly button in most cases. But women usually have a shallower hip (evolutionarily made that way to give birth). At most it could be 1/2” above belly button in extremely rare cases. So quit feeling insecure about your waistline and just face the truth. The sooner you can come into terms with your actual waistline the sooner you can do something about it. Just sayin’. Trust me I’m in a health school and we just learned this.

  • suzy // Jan 24, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Where did u get that Kara was insecure about her waist line? I got here because I was searching where to measure and I got three different answers; a inch above, an inch below and at ur navel. Its really confusing. Anywho, what I’m trying to say is maybe Kara is wrong but don’t blame it on insecurity…

  • Kara // Jan 24, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Wow. What a bunch of nasty-ass people who want to push their own insecurities on others.

    Yes, you measure about the top of your hipbone, at the NARROWEST part of your body. That is your WAIST. Your belly is the part between your hipbones, usually below or at your belly button. Your waist is not 1cm below your belly button unless you’re really oddly shaped.

    And thanks to those who expressed “concern” but no, I’m not insecure about my waist measurement or my belly measurement, thanks.

  • Hmm // Jan 24, 2013 at 11:09 PM


    Tell yourself whatever you want. Your only cheating yourself by taking inaccurate measures. Not that the tape is a good method, but it should atleast be done right. Getting am accurate picture of ones physical condition should be a serious thing. So, taking measurements in the wrong manner skews those results. It’s the equivalent of a person sucking in their gut. It may visually fool everyone else, but thr fact is, you’re still wrong.

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