Large Waist Circumference Linked to Death Risk

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • Even if you are a normal, healthy body weight a large waist circumference increases your death risk.


    A study conducted by the American Cancer Society examined the link between waist circumference and mortality in 48,500 men and 56,343 women. All participants were age 50 or older. Over a 14 year period, 9,315 men and 5,332 women died.


    The study found that large waist circumferences were linked to about twice the risk of death during the study period. A large waist circumference was defined as 47 inches or greater in men and 42 inches or greater in women.


    A large waist circumference was linked to increased risk even in individuals with a normal body weight.

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    An additional 3.9 inches around the waist increased risk of death 16% in men. In women, this additional 3.9 inches increased risk 25%.


    Most common causes of death associated with waist circumference were respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.


    Even if you do not see the number on the scale going up, but you notice your pants are getting a little tight around the waist it's time to take action. Your waist circumference is directly related to the amount of fat surrounding your organs which is believed to be more dangerous than subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin).


    What is a healthy waist circumference?


    For women, if your waist is greater than 34.6 inches you are considered abdominally obese.


    For men, if your waist is greater than 40.1 inches you are considered abdominally obese.


    It's estimated that 50% of US men and 70% of US women are abdominally obese.


    How to measure your waist circumference


    Wrap the tape measure around your abdomen at the level of your navel (belly button). Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around (you may need assistance). Do not "cinch in" the tape measure for a lower number. Hold the tape measure lightly against your skin.


    What to do if you are abdominally obese?


    There is no quick fix when it comes to weight loss. It almost always comes back to "eat right and exercise". There is significant information available here at Health Central to get your started on the right path. However, you would likely benefit from a consultation with a dietitian and personal trainer to outline a plan of action.


    Be sure to get your copy of "How to Make Heart Healthy Changes into Lifelong Habits" provided by Health Central dietitian Lisa Nelson at


Published On: November 09, 2010