Why measure a waist circumference (WC)?
- WC provides an independent prediction of risk over and above that of BMI.
- It is a practical tool to evaluate abdominal adiposity before and during weight loss treatment.
- Increased abdominal adiposity is associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and CVD.
- WC measurement is particularly useful in individuals who are categorized as normal or overweight in terms of BMI.
- A spring-loaded cloth tape measure (like a Gulick) ensures accurate and repeatable measurements.
- The spring-loaded tape measure reduces inter- and intra-individual measurement error and improves test/retest reliability.
- Locate the iliac crest or top of the hip bone.
- If the iliac crest cannot be located, measure above the umbilicus but below the xiphoid process of the ribcage.
- Place the tape measure evenly around the bare abdomen at the level of the iliac crest.
- Ensure that the tape does not compress the skin and is parallel to the floor.
- Instruct the individual to breathe out normally and make sure that they do not ‘suck in’ their stomach.
- Read the tape measure and carefully record the measurement. Allow the skin to relax and repeat the process.
- If each measurement is within a 1/4 inch, record the average of the two measurements.
- At each visit carefully measure the same anatomical landmarks and tape orientation so any change reflects a true change and not measurement error.
- Increased health risks are found at:
- >40 inches (>102 cm) for men.
- >35 inches (>88 cm) for women.