Your Waist Size: The New Vital Sign?

( — Of course, you know that pulse rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate are vital signs that are taken and used to monitor your health when you visit your physician.

At the recent NMA conference, doctors discussed the increased importance of yet another vital sign — waistline management. Why? Because how large your waistline is can help doctors determine your heart health risks. Fat around the waist is detrimental to your health…in fact, studies show that it’s better to have fat on your butt than on your stomach.

My Waist & My Health: What’s The Connection

People who gain weight around the waist increase their likelihood of developing heart disease, which is the number cause of death of African American men and women. This is why doctors are advocating to make patients more aware of their weight. This means measuring their waists in addition to just weighing them.

What’s a Healthy Waistline For Me?

The standard waist measurement for women should be no greater than 35 inches. For men, it should not be greater than 40 inches.

More Than Just About Heart Health

Many patients don’t like it, of course, but measuring one’s waist is very important because of the risk for developing not only heart disease, but diabetes, elevated cholesterol, hypertension, osteoarthritis, and/or other medical conditions.

Will all doctors be embracing this new vital sign? Yes, but like most medical topics, it will take time. Because of the ever-increasing cases of child obesity, more and more pediatricians are already measuring waistlines as an indicator for future health problems.

By Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell, BDO General Health Expert

Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell is a practicing Family Practice Physician in Charleston, South Carolina. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Medicine and the Founder of Closing the Gap in Health Care, Inc. (CGHC), a non-profit organization created to decrease health disparities by providing health education for African Americans and other under-served populations.