My role


Know your waist size, know your health risk

Men don’t know how fat they are. In a recent poll, blokes underestimated the size of their waistbands by over two inches.

BellyThe average estimated waist size in a survey of nearly 1,000 men by YouGov was 35.6 inches: 2.3 inches less than the English average (37.9 inches) and 2.4 inches smaller than the Scottish average (38 inches).

Most men didn’t know how to measure they waists accurately in the first place either. Just 20% knew the correct method: measuring at the midpoint between your ribs and the top of the hips.

The survey has been published by three health charities - the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK - as part of their Active Fat campaign which aims to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying extra weight around the middle.

Tummy fat: dangerous fat

A bulging waistline means much more than a few strained buttons. Fat cells around your middle increase levels of hormones and chemicals that can cause disease. Research suggests that the most toxic fat is intra-abdominal fat, which sits around your internal organs, as opposed to subcutaneous fat that sits just under the skin. This means that storing fat around the waist rather than elsewhere can increase your health risk.

Men are at increased risk of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease when their waist size strays above 37 inches and at high risk when they pass the 40 inch mark. In the survey only 16% of men were willing to admit to a waist size of 40 inches or above. The real figures are far higher with one in three British men having waists that are 40 inches or more (32% of English men and 34% of Scottish).

Tracy Parker, Heart Health Dietitian at the BHF says ‘The results of this survey are worrying; they suggest men might not know they are in the danger zone.’

Be honest with yourself

Even if you wouldn't be honest in a survey, you certainly need to be honest with yourself. Deepa Khatri, Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK says: ‘Knowing you are at risk is the first step to taking action and making small lifestyle changes can sometimes be all it takes. This can be anything from taking the stairs at work to swapping your afternoon snack for a piece of fruit. Incorporating these changes into your daily routine will make them easier to stick to and remember there are many different ways to lose weight, so set yourself targets that are achievable for you.’

MHF president Dr Ian Banks said: ‘This is a great campaign but we also need to see action from weight management services to run male friendly programmes that men might actually want to join. There is an example of this in Barnsley where the NHS and the football club have worked together to tackle men’s weight problems.’

DJ Neil Fox, who is supporting the campaign, concluded: ‘grab that tape measure and start making a difference to your future health today.’

Page created on October 7th, 2011

Page updated on October 7th, 2011