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How to evaluate abdominal obesity

How to evaluate abdominal obesity

Measuring abdominal obesity is the best way to calculate future risks of metabolic syndrome and its associated diseases.

Abdominal obesity (AO) is directly associated with metabolic syndrome (MS), a leading risk factor of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease. To measure AO, experts recommend two standards of measurement, including waist circumference and BMI. The former better quantifies future risks of MS and its associated diseases, while the latter estimates overall fat percentage.

How to calculate BMI?

BMI is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms or pounds by height in centimetres (1). You are considered overweight if your BMI is over 25 and obese if it over 30.

How to measure waist circumference (WC)?

With your abdomen relaxed, measure your waist at the navel, and then measure your hips at their widest point. Finally, divide your waist size by your hip size. A healthy WC should be no more than 99cm in European men and no more than 85cm in European women. Among Asians, WC should be no more than 85cm in men and no more than 80cm in women(2). Men and women are considered at high risk of AO if their waists are 101cm and 88.9cm or more, respectively.

How to reduce waist circumference (WC)?

Since WC is a better predictor of MS than overall body mass, therapies for AO need not necessarily aim for total weight loss but rather, a reduction in WC. According to an analysis of studies published in Deutsches Arzteblatt International, combination therapies involving behavioral counseling, diet and exercise program(s), and pharmacological intervention, are more effective in reducing WC than any of these treatments alone (3).


1. Singh, J., Seman, Z,. Che Abdul Rahim, N., et al. Waist to Height Ratio: An Anthropometric Indicator For Early Detection of Health Risk for Malaysia’s National Health and Morbidity Survey. International Journal of Public Health Clinical Sciences. 2020;7(1): e2289-7577. Accessible at this page (Last accessed: 19 March 2021)

2. Harvard Health Publishing, Abdominal obesity and your health, (2017). Accessible at: (Last accessed: 19 March 2021)

3. Keszytus, D., Erdhardt, J., Schonsteiner, D., et al. Therapeutic Treatment for Abdominal Obesity in Adults. Deutsches Arzteblatt International. 2018; 115(29-30): 487-493. Accessible at: (Last accessed: 19 March 2021)