Skip to main content

Measures of Waist Circumference

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Handbook of Anthropometry


Waist circumference measurement is recommended in the clinical assessment of ­obesity and is a useful marker of total and abdominal body fat in genetic and epidemiologic research. Waist circumference measurement is non-invasive and is easily accomplished by trained observers in clinical and research settings. Consensus on the most appropriate measurement location has yet to be reached and several different sites and measurement protocols have been proposed. The importance of developing a systematic approach for identifying and marking the measurement site, positioning the tape, and recording the measurement cannot be understated. In this chapter, we present a description of the measurement of waist circumference. We include information on tape measures, measurement sites, and measurement guidelines. We present a detailed outline that will help clinicians and researchers to efficiently and reliably obtain accurate measurements of waist circumference.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 749.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 949.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 949.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others



Waist circumference


  • Agarwal SK, Misra A, Aggarwal P, Bardia A, Goel R, Vikram NK, Wasir JS, Hussain N, Ramachandran K, Pandey RM. Waist circumference measurement by site, posture, respiratory phase, and meal time: implications for methodology. Obesity. 2009;17: 1056–61.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bigaard J, Spanggaard I, Thomsen BL, Overvad K, Tjønneland A. Self-reported and technician-measured waist circumferences differ in middle-aged men and women. J Nutr. 2005;135: 2263–70.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Douketis JD, Paradis G, Keller H, Martineau C. Canadian guidelines for body weight classification in adults: application in clinical practice to screen for overweight and obesity and to assess disease risk. CMAJ. 2005;172:995–8.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Health Canada. Accessed 20 July 2009.

  • International Chair on Cardiometabolic Health. Accessed 20 Aug 2009.

  • Klein S, Allison DB, Heymsfield SB, Kelley DE, Leibel RL, Nonas C, Kahn R; Association for Weight Management and Obesity Prevention; NAASO; Obesity Society; American Society for Nutrition; American Diabetes Association. Waist circumference and cardiometabolic risk: a consensus statement from shaping America’s health: Association for Weight Management and Obesity Prevention; NAASO, the Obesity Society; the American Society for Nutrition; and the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2007;30:1647–52.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lohman TG, Roche AF, Martorell R. Anthropometric standardization reference manual. Champaign: Human Kinetics; 1988. p. 28–80.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mason C, Katzmarzyk PT. Variability in waist circumference measurements according to anatomic measurement site. Obesity. 2009;17:1789–95.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Misra A, Wasir JS, Vikram NK. Waist circumference criteria for the diagnosis of abdominal obesity are not applicable uniformly to all populations and ethnic groups. Nutrition. 2005;21:969–76.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Accessed 20 July 2009.

  • National Institutes of Health. Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults—the evidence report. Obesity. 1998;6(Suppl2):51S–209S.

    Google Scholar 

  • NHANES III, Anthropometric Procedures Video.

  • Pearson K. The grammar of science. 2nd ed. London: Adam and Charles Black (made available by BiblioLife, LLC); 1900.

    Google Scholar 

  • PhenX, consensus measures for phenotypes and exposures. Accessed 1 Aug 2009.

  • Ross R, Berentzen T, Bradshaw AJ, Janssen I, Kahn HS, Katzmarzyk PT, Kuk JL, Seidell JC, Snijder MB, Sørensen TI, Després JP. Does the relationship between waist circumference, morbidity and mortality depend on measurement protocol for waist circumference? Obes Rev. 2008;9:312–25.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wang J, Thornton JC, Bari S, Williamson B, Gallagher D, Heymsfield SB, Horlick M, Kotler D, Laferrère B, Mayer L, Pi-Sunyer FX, Pierson RN Jr Comparisons of waist circumferences measured at 4 sites. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 77: 379–84.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • World Health Organization. WHO Tech Rep Ser; 2000;894:1–253.

    Google Scholar 

  • World Health Organization, Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion, STEPS instrument. Accessed 29 Aug 2009.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paul B. Higgins .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Higgins, P.B., Comuzzie, A.G. (2012). Measures of Waist Circumference. In: Preedy, V. (eds) Handbook of Anthropometry. Springer, New York, NY.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4419-1787-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4419-1788-1

  • eBook Packages: MedicineMedicine (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics