The Health and Wellbeing column with Mel Spencer: Measure your waist for an accurate picture on overall health

The most commonly used parameter of size loss is weight. We see ‘weigh-ins’ at diet clubs, some people jump on the scales on a daily basis.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 8:45 am
Weighing people doesn’t actually tell you that much about general health.

The most commonly used parameter of size loss is weight. We see ‘weigh-ins’ at diet clubs, some people jump on the scales on a daily basis.

I don’t weigh any of my clients.

I may look at their body composition – muscle and body fat percentages – but they are never weighed.

Mel Spencer.

Weight doesn’t actually tell you all that much.

What are you losing? Is it fat, is it muscle – particularly if you’re on a very calorie restrictive diet.

Equally if you’re gaining, is it fat or muscle? If you’re resistance training it could very well be muscle which is a cause for celebration, not commiseration!

My go to form of measurement with all of my clients is the tape measure and of most interest to me is their waist measurement as research shows strong links between this and overall health.

Years of research all points to the correlation between waist measurements and general health and that a reduction in waist circumference is associated with a reduced risk of some serious health conditions.

Carrying too much fat around your middle can make you more susceptible to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and stroke.

So why is abdominal fat so strongly correlated to increased health risks?

It all comes down to visceral fat.

This is the fat surrounding the major abdominal organs such as the liver, pancreas and the kidneys which ensures there is space between each organ.

It is normal to have some visceral fat but too much of it can lead to inflammation, high blood pressure and insulin sensitivity as it is very metabolically active, releasing fatty acids and hormones.

The conclusion of all conducted studies is that regardless of your height or weight ideally for men the waist should be 40 inches or below and for women, 35 inches or below.

So step away from the scales and grab that tape measure. How to measure your waist:

Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips

Place your tape measure halfway between them

Pull it tight, but not too tight!

Breath out and take your measurement

In terms of losing visceral fat, it comes down to lifestyle alterations such as exercise and correct nutrition.

Stress can also have an impact via the stress hormone cortisol which can increase the amount of visceral fat that your body stores.

If you would like any further information, please contact me at