Keep Waist Less Than Half Your Height, NHS Guidance States

People should ensure their waist measurement is less than half their height to prevent the risk of developing health problems, an NHS watchdog has advised.

According to updated guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), adults with a body mass index (BMI) below 35 need to measure their own waist-to-height ratio.

A BMI of 18 to 25 is considered a healthy weight, 25 to 30 is overweight, and over 30 is obese.

Measuring your BMI is a useful tool, however it does not take into consideration excess weight around the abdomen.

NICE states that by using a waist-to-height ratio, together with BMI, people can establish whether they are carrying excess fat around their middle, which is known to push up the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.


Anyone wanting to find out their waist-to-height ratio will be able to by using tools such as an online calculator or can also ask a health professional to figure it out for them.

For example, a woman who is 5ft 4in with a waist circumference of 29 inches would be placed in the healthy bracket however, if they had a waist measurement of 32 inches, they would be classed as unhealthy. For a male, for example, if they were 5ft 10in and had a waist circumference of 36in, they would also be classed as unhealthy.

The new guidance reveals that a healthy waist-to-height ratio is 0.4 to 0.49. A ratio of 0.5 to 0.59 puts people at increased risk of health issues, while 0.6 or more puts them at the highest risk of health problems.

The guidelines also recommend, in compliance with international guidance, using decreased BMI thresholds for overweight and obesity for people from south Asian, Chinese, other Asian, Middle Eastern, black African, or African-Caribbean backgrounds. This is because these groups tend to be more prone to carrying around more fat in their waist, which is also known as “central adiposity”.

‘Simple and Effective’

Director for centre for guidelines at NICE, Dr Paul Chrisp, said: “Our updated draft guideline offers people a simple and effective way of measuring their weight so they can understand the factors that could impact on their health and take action to address them.

“Our committee found that a clear benefit of using the waist-to-height ratio is that people can easily measure it themselves, interpret the results, and seek medical advice if they are at increased health risk.”

The NHS have suffered over the years due to obesity, with over £6bn being funded to help solve the issue. Currently in England, approximately 28% of adults are obese and a further 36% are overweight. But some health experts believe that this new guidance could help people think more about their health situation.

Professor Rachel Batterham, guideline committee member and a consultant in obesity, diabetes and endocrinology, said: “Increased fat in the abdomen increases a person’s risk of developing several life-limiting diseases including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“Waist-to-height ratio is a simple, easy-to-use measure that identifies people who are at increased health risk and would benefit from weight management support to improve their health.”

SEE ALSO: Final REACT Study Reports Peak in Covid in the Young

You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get
• FREE Competitions
• FREE Digital Magazines
• HOME and FAMILY News
And much more…

You have Successfully Subscribed!