Evaluating CMR

Clinical Tools

Waist Circumference

Measuring Waist Circumference—Self-measurement

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It is recommended that you measure waist circumference in front of a mirror in your undergarments or without any clothing that would interfere with the measurement (Figure 3). Measure your waist circumference with the measuring tape directly on your skin. Stand in a relaxed position with your feet shoulder-width apart. The use of a Myotape is recommended to ensure proper landmarking and measurement. Use your hands to find the uppermost border of your hip bones on both sides of your body. Align the bottom edge of your measuring tape with the top of your hipbones. Use the mirror to ensure that you have placed the measuring tape correctly (i.e., horizontally, and not twisted or caught on clothing). The measure should be snug without indenting your skin. Relax and measure your waist at the end of a normal expiration to the nearest 0.1 cm.

Errors associated with self-reported waist circumference
Men and women tend to underestimate their waist size when it is measured using a traditional measuring tape, with the underestimation increasing with waist size (16). Consequently, only 35.5% of abdominally obese men (>102 cm) and 44.9% of abdominally obese women (>88 cm) correctly classified themselves into the highest health risk category. However, when the same individuals used a tape measure with a spring mechanism, the measurement error dropped to 0.5 cm and 0.4 cm in men and women respectively, and only 2% of the sample misclassified their waist circumference category. This suggests that spring-loaded tape measures may be a useful clinical tool for minimizing the underestimation of waist circumference and may provide an accurate method for self-assessment of health risk.

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16. Han TS and Lean ME. Self-reported waist circumference compared with the 'Waist Watcher' tape-measure to identify individuals at increased health risk through intra-abdominal fat accumulation. Br J Nutr 1998; 80: 81-8.