More than half of British women's waists 'too big'

An overweight person walks through Glasgow City centre Larger waists could lead to an increased chance of fertility problems

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More than half of British women have waists that are larger than the recommended healthy size, experts say.

Researchers from the charity Nuffield Health say overweight women risk an increased chance of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, infertility and cancer.

The researchers found the average waist measurement for women is 84.9cm (33.43in), compared with the healthy size of 80cm (31.49in).

Nuffield Health's Dr Davina Deniszczyc said it was a "worrying problem."

Dr Deniszczyc, professional head of physicians and diagnostics at Nuffield Health, said: "Fat being stored around the waist can contribute to significant health issues, such as breast cancer and infertility."

Nuffield Health examined data from more than 30,000 women and found 57% had a waist larger than the healthy size.

It said women in the north of England have the largest waists, with an average circumference of 87cm, compared to 81.9cm in London.

Researchers also said 52.5% of the women have a body mass index (BMI) higher than the healthy range, while 16.2% were moderately or morbidly obese.

The BMI is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in metres squared.

A BMI level measured between 25 and 29.9 means a person is regarded as overweight. If your BMI is over 30 then you are clinically obese.

Dr Deniszczyc said: "Whilst waist size may seem like a cosmetic issue, this isn't about women fitting into their skinny jeans. Rather, it's an important indicator of overall health and well-being, particularly when taken into account with other health measurements.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    With my good lady, if she neeeds an x-ray they just hold her up to the window !

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Whatever happened to the 36-24-36 figure? now it seems that a 31" waist is OK!. 36-31-36.. thats almost straight up and down and for a northern lass, with an average 87cm (34.25") waist, it is.
    So to answer that age old question, "does my ass look big in these jeans", the simple answer is yes. Now what are you going to do about it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    @21 Dismas Muscle weight also contributes to BMI which is it why it is not or may not be an accurate indicator of body fat or obesity. Google it if you doubt me. That is what is meant by providing a contextual or caveat provide the full facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I know I'm bigger than I should be (by a considerable amount) but I actually am quite nipped in around the waist, however I would love to lose some of my extra chub, I could have a beautiful curvy figure without being overweight. I know its my fault and am TRYING to do something about it, but it isn't easy! Not everyone who is overweight or obese is actually a huge great fatty!

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Look, these womwen are just big boned......

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    This is a country where we reward people who make the wrong decisions in life. We also have sold off all our kids sports grounds and don't encourage competitive sports at school.

    Then to add to all that we have an appauling public transport system meaning that everyone drives to work.

    What do you expect?

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    I am female. My waist in 2010 was 44 in (111 cm) and I had type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and felt very unwell. By dieting from 75 kg (11 st 11) to 52 kg (8 st 3 lb) - no secret: eat much less - my waist is now 28 in (71 cm) and I no longer have type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure and feel great.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    So why not treat junk food companies the same as you treat tobacco companies?
    You remember?
    When you took them all to court, made them pay fines, made them label their packaging extremely clearly? Age restricted their products, banned their products in places where people might enjoy them...

    You believe those measures worked.
    Perhaps try them again?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    I love them all

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.


    Anorexic's and bullimic's cost the NHS equally as much as the obese why are they treated with such nobility."

    Citation please? Some evidence to back up your comments? Or is this just entirely made up? Not denying they are also issues but throw-away comments like this don't contribute to healthy debates on the subject...

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    There's a very easy way to put a fuller waist in proportion: make breast-implants free on the NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Looking around its not just females where this is a problem. Males suffer the same complications when over-weight too.

    How about some balanced and even reporting if the BBC wish to highlight health issues. Women have enough problems being bombarded with 'image' issues in the media as it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    @yours in sisterhood

    There is context, the article says that a healthy waist is 31.49". In no way could that be described as alarmingly thin or promoting anorexia. There is a large middle ground between anorexia and obesity. Overweight is defined as having a BMI of between 25 and 29.9 and is associated with future health problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    We have a very unhealthy obsession with food in this country! But we are the root of our own problem. We want cheap food - fast - so we pay our farmers and our supermarkets a pittance for bulked out additive laden food. This came as a consequence of the food shortages after WW2. We need to re-examine our relationship with food - why do we want quantity over quality?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    People are all shapes and sizes. Unless you are hugely obese? Be comfortable with who you are.

    (The BMI isn't a good indicator of whether or not someone is obese, by the way - it's possible to be classed as obese and have a very low body fat percentage if you spend a lot of time in the gym - BMI is calculated on weight compared against height, and muscle is heavier than fat. A flawed index.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    It's to be expected with all the rubbish manufacturers put in the food chain just to make profit for greedy supermarkets. What do we want, an economy based on consumerism and profit or an overstretched health service resulting from it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Anorexic's and bullimic's cost the NHS equally as much as the obese why are they treated with such nobility.
    Where is your evidence? The NHS is absolutely bursting with obesity and associated complications. Other eating disorders, whereas significant, make up a fraction of the those who need medical intervention because of their obesity. It's up to you but you have been warned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Fat people are a disgusting drain on the NHS. At least smokers pay massive amounts of tax on their habit to fund their eventual need for healthcare. Fatties do not.

    Oh and you don't have to customise ambulances or knock a wall down to get a smoker out of their house.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I'm big-boned!

    It's water retention!

    It's in my genes!

    I have slow metabolism!

    I never eat and I'm still fat!

    I'm too busy to exercise!

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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