Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

The science of nutrition and healthy eating
The science of nutrition and healthy eating

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4.5 Measuring your waist

The size of your waist is a strong indicator for the risk of developing conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Central obesity should also be considered, irrespective of your BMI.

Your risk increases if your waist is:

  • 94 cm (37 inches) or more for men – 90 cm (35 inches)
  • 80 cm (31.5 inches) or more for women.

Measuring your waist circumference correctly is very important. So how is it done?

Activity 7 Measuring your waist and working out your BMI

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes.
An image of a person’s waist, with a measuring tape around it.
Figure 18 Measuring your waist
  1. Get a measuring tape. Don’t use a metal one – keep that for measuring your height. Use a tailor’s flexible measuring tape, or one that is specifically for measuring waist circumference.
  2. Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone on the side of your abdomen.
  3. Measure your waist midway between these points, while standing upright.
  4. Don’t breathe in – that’s cheating… Just breathe in and then breathe out naturally.
  5. Also make sure that the measuring tape is not pulled tight, but just resting on your skin, parallel to the floor.
  6. Make a note of your waist circumference.

Do you know your height? If not, you may need help to do this.

  1. Get a metal tape and tape it to the wall, making sure you don’t damage the wall! Or ask someone to hold it for you, measuring from the floor up. Stand with your back against the tape on the wall. Your assistant needs to measure from the top of your head. Perhaps a ruler might help. Make a note of your height.
  2. Then measure your weight using reliable scales on a hard floor.
Table 3 your results
My waist circumference is: cm
My height is: m
My weight is: kg
My BMI is: kg/m2

Make a note of your thoughts about your results in the box below. Click ‘Save’ when you are satisfied with what you have written.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).