Your waist size may say a lot more about you than how good you look in clothes according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Although most people would like to have a small waist for beauty reasons, it may be even more important to have a small waist for health reasons. As it turns out, waist circumference measurement may be an independent risk factor for diabetes.

The National Health and Nutrition Survey looked at the waist sizes of 5,800 men and women and broke their waist circumference measurements down into three categories based on size. They also measured fasting blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol panels, and recorded any heart related problems experienced by the men and women.

The results showed that both men and women in the two highest categories of waist circumference had a two to five times increased risk of developing diabetes. For women, the risk started to rise above a waist circumference measurement of 33.7 inches and in men 35.8 inches. They also looked at the risk of heart disease in relation to waist measurement and found no association.

circumference measurements

From this data, it appears that waist circumference measurement may be an important predictor of a person’s risk of developing diabetes. It’s already been determined that being overweight with a high BMI is a risk factor for diabetes and waist size adds another measurement to be considered when determining risk of this disease. Previously, the waist to hip ratio had been thought to be an important predictor of diabetes, now it’s thought that the absolute waist circumference may be more important.

If your waist measurement falls into the higher risk category, you may want to consider making the healthy lifestyle changes necessary to reduce your risk of diabetes. The problem with a large waist measurement is that it suggests the presence of excess abdominal fat which has long been thought to be an important marker for diabetes.

Studies have shown that women who have fat deposits in their abdominal region are at higher risk of various chronic diseases such as diabetes than are women who carry fat predominantly in the hips, thigh, and buttocks. It appears that women who carry excess weight in their abdomen and waist are more likely to have metabolic syndrome, a group of abnormalities that increase the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.


If you’re a woman whose waist measures greater than 34 inches or a man whose waist measures more than 36 inches, see your doctor for a physical, blood pressure check, and blood tests to check your glucose level. Your doctor can help you get started on a plan to eliminate those unwanted abdominal fat deposits and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.


When she’s not pretending to be important at her day job, Weetabix rides the prairies of Wisconsin on her trusty steed, Nickles, with her constant companion, a Pekin duck named Lucien. Together, the threesome fights crime and also solves mysteries, while educating the women of this fine land in the importance of appropriate foundation garments. She also has a personal online journal called That’s My Bix, contributes to an American Idol live blog, a half-hearted culinary companion blog, and a size-acceptance blog. You can also hear her dulcet voice on a podcast called 3 Fast 3 Furious. Weetabix’s hobbies include making peanut butter and bananas sandwiches and wearing warm socks.