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Developed by the British Dietetic Association.


need to lose weight? Measure your waist: are you an apple or a pear?

Apple and pear

Waist measurement is a good way to check your fat distribution, as this is linked to health risk. Carrying too much weight around your middle increases your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

People who carry excess weight around their middle are often referred to as 'apple-shaped', whereas those who carry the weight on their hips are 'pear-shaped'.

Measuring your waist is an easy way of finding out whether you are an 'apple' or 'pear'. To measure your waist, find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips.

Waist measurement for: at increased risk at high risk
European men 94cm (37 inches) 102cm (40 inches)
Asian men 90cm (36 inches)  
European and Asian women 80cm (32 inches) 88cm (35 inches)

Measure around your middle at a point mid-way between these (for many people this will be the tummy button). Use the table to see if you are at risk of ill health. Remember these measurements refer to adults.

If you are at increased risk, now would be a good time to make healthy lifestyle changes that would reduce or prevent any further increase. If you are at high risk then losing weight and reducing your waist size would improve your health. Changing your eating habits and becoming more physically active would have many benefits. Click on 'Eating well' or 'Getting physical' to get started.