Waist circumference is usually known to serve as a valuable indicator of the fat distribution around the abdominal region of a person, which can provide essential insights into the individual’s health. This specific type of fat is known as visceral fat, and it tends to accumulate around vital organs within the abdominal cavity. Its presence has been associated with a range of detrimental health effects, such as elevated blood lipid levels, hypertension, as well as an increased risk of developing diabetes.
A larger waist circumference often indicates an excess of visceral fat, which can encroach upon the organs, potentially compromising their optimal function. Understanding and monitoring waist circumference can offer valuable information about a person’s overall health and the potential risk of experiencing related health issues.
By keeping an eye on waist circumference and taking proactive steps to manage and reduce visceral fat, such as adopting a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity, people can work towards mitigating the associated health risks and promoting overall well-being.
However, we still have a lot to learn about what waist circumference can tell us about our health.
Healthcare professionals should measure waist circumference
There’s a new consensus statement urging healthcare professionals to measure the circumference of waist in addition to body mass index to manage the health and longevity of patients and avoid obesity-related health risks. The statement cites existing evidence that BMI is not enough to evaluate the cardiometabolic health risks of obesity. The authors argue that waist circumference is a strong predictor of visceral fat, which represents the most significant health risk. They also argue for the inclusion of waist circumference guidelines in global obesity surveillance schemes, as not having waist circumference guidelines along with BMI may provide an inaccurate model of the global prevalence of obesity and recent trends. Furthermore, waist circumference is a strong predictor of death risk, unlike BMI, as it helps identify people with large amounts of visceral fat.
The new statement recommends that measurements of waist circumference and BMI become a standard part of clinical encounters. Lifestyle changes can affect waist size, and the good news is that waist circumference can be lowered with exercise or diet. The study also includes a link to healthy waist guidelines and ethnicity-specific thresholds for healthy circumference.
The statement in question was published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology.