waist-healthYour natural waistline hits at the area between the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your rib cage. Your waistline may be bigger or smaller depending on your genetics, frame size, and lifestyle habits. Measuring the circumference of your waist may help clue you in to your health. A larger waistline may mean you’re carrying excess abdominal fat, which may put you at higher risk of obesity-related health conditions. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, you can be at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease if you are a man with a waistline of more than 40 inches for a woman with a waistline of more than 35 inches.

Your waistline is just one of the three key measures of your overall health. Two other important considerations are Body Fat % and waist-to-hip ratio. Your waist-to-hip ratio helps show how much weight you carry on your hips, thighs, and buttocks. To calculate, measure your waist circumference and your hip circumference. Then, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurements. According to the World Health Organization, your risk of metabolic complications, such as type 2 diabetes, increases when a man has a waist-to hip ratio result of more than 0.9 and a woman has a result of more than 0.85. Other risks may include: heart disease, strokes, and inflammation.

You may have a healthy waistline measure and weight, but if you’re carrying excessive fat around the middle, that can be considered a “red flag” and something worth chatting about with your doctor. Why? Belly fat is made up of both subcutaneous fat (a layer of padding under the skin) and visceral fat. The latter is deeper in the abdomen and surrounds your internal organs. When visceral fat builds, it coats the heart, kidneys, digestive system, liver, and pancreas, impacting their ability to function properly.

If you’re concerned about your waist circumference, consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your health risks, diet, and other weight loss options. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight may help decrease your health risks. But don’t worry if the number on the scale doesn’t look significantly different after your efforts. It may just mean that you’ve replaced body fat with muscle mass. If you have any concerns about your waistline and health, talk to your doctor.

This post is a small sample of the information covered each week in the StayConnected™ Mini-CE Coaching Calls. All coaching calls are recorded and StayConnected™ members have access to the entire archive through their StayConnected™ dashboard. It’s just one of the many benefits of staying connected to HLS.