Cancer Council research shows that a waistline of more than 94cm for men increases the risk of some types of cancer, including cancers of the bowel and oesophagus, while a waistline of more than 102cm greatly increases your risk.
Besides increased cancer risk, being overweight or obese also leads to decreased life expectancy and reduced quality of life as a result of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea and osteoarthritis.
Am I at risk?
Measuring your waistline is a simple way of assessing your risk of developing chronic disease, including some types of cancer. Excess fat around your waist is known to be more dangerous to your health than excess fat elsewhere on your body, for example on your hips and thighs.
Many people measure their waist incorrectly (in the wrong spot), or rely on their belt or trouser size, which is often inaccurate. For an accurate waist measurement make sure you:
- measure directly over your skin or no more than one item of light clothing
- take the measurement after breathing out normally
- have the tape measure fitting snug, but not compressing the skin
- measure at the halfway point between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone. This will be roughly in-line with your belly button.
A waistline of more than 94cm for men increases the risk of some types of cancer, while a waistline of more than 102cm greatly increases your risk.
What can I do to reduce my risk?
Maintaining a healthy weight is about getting the balance right between what you eat and how physically active you are. If you are overweight or obese it may be because you are eating more than you need for your level of activity.
To reduce your risk:
- make it a priority not to gain more weight
- aim to reduce your weight by 5 to 10 per cent if you are overweight or obese – aim to lose 1 to 4kg per month
- cut back on foods and drinks high in fats and sugars, such as soft drink and fast foods, and snack on vegies and fruit
- avoid fried foods
- reduce the amount of food you put on your plate at mealtimes – you might find you don't need as much food as you think to feel full
- limit or avoid alcoholic drinks
- increase your physical activity – do one hour of a moderate activity, such as cycling, or 30 minutes of vigorous activity, such as jogging, most days.
For more tips and tools to help you lose weight, visit LiveLighter.
David’s workmate (age 54) is considering losing weight after noticing he has been putting on weight more quickly than he used to.