Can a Big Waist Be Unhealthy?

We don’t disagree with the body positivity movement, however, new research is giving out information that caution against a lifestyle that promotes excess weight around the mid-section. Our modern day diets and sedentary lifestyles can indeed be intervened to take control of our health. Here’s a summary of an article by Sara Chodosh on Popular Science:


“Research suggests that a wide waist increases risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Even if you’re otherwise at a healthy weight for your height, excess abdominal fat significantly raises your likelihood of developing all of those diseases.

There are two kinds of fat in this world, and none of them are “skinny fat.” One is subcutaneous, the layer of fat cells under your skin but not quite inside your body cavity. This fat is pretty healthy—we all have some, and we all need it. Your body uses fat to store fuel. The other, more dangerous kind, is visceral fat. These are fat cells accumulated inside the body, in and around your organs.

Fat on the liver in particular seems to highly predict whether a person will later have metabolic issues, even if they’re not obese. Your risk of death overall seems to be at least twice as high if you have a wide waist, despite a normal BMI, than if you have a slim one.

Like BMI, what makes a healthy waist size will vary a bit by height. In general, though, you’re low risk as a woman if you’re at 31.5 inches or below, and high risk above 35 inches. For men, it’s 37 and 40 inches respectively. Hip-to-waist ratio is an even better metric in terms of predicting health, but because body shape varies between populations there aren’t yet solid cut-off numbers for what’s healthy or not. Most studies suggest it’s ideal to hit under 0.9 for men and 0.8 for women, though the numbers need to be tailored to specific ethnic groups to be relevant.

The good news is that if you’re above that threshold, even small amounts of weight loss can have a huge impact on disease risk.”


Hope this information motivated you enough to consider dietary modification and exercise. Our website helps you find a dietician, instructor, sports club, or fitness center with ease, and at no cost! Use it and share the message with your loved ones too.