Waist Circumference


A person’s waist circumference may be a better predictor of health risk than BMI. Having fat around the abdominal organs and enlarged waist circumference, regardless of your BMI, means you are more likely to develop certain obesity-related health conditions. Fat predominantly deposited around the hips and buttocks does not appear to have the same risk. Men and post-menopausal women are at greater risk of excess fat in the waist region.

Waist circumference for women:
a waist circumference of 80cm or over indicates increased risk of obesity related health conditions. A waist circumference of 88cm or more indicates a substantially increased risk.

Waist circumference for men:
a waist circumference of 94cm or over indicates increased risk of obesity related health conditions. A waist circumference of 102cm or more indicates a substantially increased risk.

Why causes weight fluctuations?
While everyone is at risk of at least becoming overweight in the modern ‘obesogenic’ environment, particular factors influence why weight is gained. These include:

  • Previous history of weight loss.
    The effects of weight cycling – frequent large gains and losses – on long term health are unclear, but there are associations between the number of failed weight loss attempts and current body weight, as well as health risks.
  • Life Stage.
    Weight gain is common, although not inevitable, at various life stages – for example, after pregnancy, and during menopause.
  • Life events.
    Certain life events – such as marriage, giving up sport, and quitting smoking – can cause weight gain. Weight gain after quitting smoking can be significant (i.e. 5 kg in the first year). For this reason, instituting a weight management plan at the time of quitting may help reduce the weight gain that normally occurs after quitting.
  • Family, work and social environments.
    Can influence weight gain and the inability to lose weight.
  • Genetic influences.
    Genetic predisposition can influence the amount and rate at which weight is gained and lost.
  • Stress.
    May need to be considered as a factor that can cause either weight gain or weight loss, depending on the person’s reaction to stress.
  • Medical conditions.
    Certain medical conditions, for example, hypothyroidrism, are known causes of overweight.
  • Medical treatments.
    Prescription medications can exacerbate weight gain (in particular, benzodiazepines, corticsteroids, anti-psychotics, tricyclic antidepressants, anti-epileptics, sulphonylureas, and insulin).

For more information regarding healthy weight loss contact your friendly UFS pharmacist or health care professional.