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 73.

    Michael Jordan - arguably the greatest basketball player that ever lived was deemed over weight in accordance to the BMI Index when he was at his peak. I would suggest his fitness was much better than those with the 'correct' BMI Index

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    My waist is willow thin, but that is because I do not eat and drink too much and walk two mile to work

    Women drinking beer puts on the pounds. I see them getting the size of the men. In fact many of them look like men, hard to tell the difference?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    The Double dip recession has helped me lose weight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Sorry, big is not beautiful, it is very unhealthy....please lets speak about the elephant in the room. Obese people are ill and we need to get real about this terrible problem. Watch 'the men who made us fat'

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    @yours in sisterhood

    If someone has a high BMI because of Muscle the person knows it. It is also a tiny % of men and women. So as a general guide is fares pretty well.

    I say again that the article gives a healthy waist size as 31.49" which in no way can be described as promoting anorexia. Which seemed to be your point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    I can't believe so many comments here are effectively still arguing the case that women are ok if they are overweight. It is NOT ok. It is both unhealthy and unsightly.

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    The solution is to start charging bus- and airline fares according to weight. When cheap food ends up costing people more, they'll be motivated to lose weight. It requires more fuel to move bigger weights and/or fewer people (due to wider seats), so it seems fair. Why should we subsidise obese people? Simple formula: less energy in combined with more energy out = weight loss. Worked for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    And next week some one will discover that being "over weight" is good for you... Blah, blah... What is really sad is that many women take this rubbish to heart... People should be able to live the lives they want to, they should not be made to feel ashamed of their size, no more than someone should be made to feel ashamed of there sexuality..! STOP THIS SIZEISM RUBBISH let people be!

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Interesting story. I'm a size 16 yet i am healthier and fitter than my size 6 sister. if we go running or even walking up a hill, she has a stitch within 5 mins and i don't get one at all. they make it up as they go along i think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    More Anorexic people with waist lines the size of 80cm 31.49in
    what ever next?

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    So to satisfy everyone should I stop taking the medication that is keeping me alive? The side effect of which is weight gain. Please think before you spout your vile scorn on others..just think it could be you in the future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    What is it with the beeb and obesity?

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Personally I think big is beautiful so I am happy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.


    And fat people dont pay into the NHS???

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Lady May

    Spent last 3 years completing Public Health Nutrition degree thinking with the current situation I'd get a decent job at the end. There are no jobs in this area.

    Totally agree, also funding for healthy eating seems very piecemeal, campaigns for a few months and then nothing for a few years. We need a continuous well funded campaign to combat the fast food market. !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Instead of in-house school meals we have big private businesses providing cheap catering, starting a lifetime of unhealthy food.

    Instead of local grocers, etc. we have supermarkets squeezing the farmers and processing food to give us a never-seen-before choice of addictive, unsatisfying junk.

    A mind can be programmed as any other machine. I'm lucky to have strong will, but not everyone does.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Ha ha - this story has cheered me up this morning. Not the story itself, which is possibly applicable to some people but not to many others, but the replies! Great fun value, you are a lovely lot out there. Keep the answers coming. I agree with them all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Who has the authority to say what size women should and should not be? Every single human on this planet was built differently for a reason. If we all looked like guidelines, clothing manufacturers wouldnt bother with different sizes but the world would be a mighty boring place. Leave people alone! Let them live how they want to, if someone is overweight thats their body and doesnt effect you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    This is ridiculous.

    As a fat guy, I am healthier than most thin people I know - my blood pressure is good, my risk of heart attack is in the 1% group; I exercise, and while my diet is not the greatest, I'm healthy for all intents and purposes.

    Being fat/large does not mean you're unhealthy; it might mean you have some unhealthy habits, but I see just as many health issues for thin women.


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