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- The average waist size for women of all ages is 38.6 inches.
- Females aged 20-29 have a 36.3-inch waist on average, 30-39 have a 38.3-inch waistline, 40-49 have a 39.2-inch waist, and 60-79 have a 40-inch waist.
- The average waist size for men aged 20 and above is 40.2 inches.
- Males aged 20-29 have a 37.1-inch waist, 30-39 have a 40.4-inch waist, and 40-49 have a 41-inch waist.
- By 2015, the average waist size for all adults had increased to 39.4 inches, with women having an average waist size of 38.4 inches and men having an average waist size of 40.2 inches.
- Asian individuals have the smallest waist sizes on average, while Hispanic individuals have the largest.
- Top 5 countries with largest average waist size: United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom.
- Top 5 countries with smallest average waist size: Japan, Italy, South Korea, Bangladesh, China.
Average waist size for women
The average waist size for women of all ages is 38.7 inches or 98.4 cm.
Females aged 20-29 have a 36.3-inch waist on average, and women aged 30-39 usually have a 38.3-inch waistline.
However, this number increases to 39.2 inches for women in the 40-49 age bracket and reaches a peak of 40 inches in the 60 to 79 age range.
|20-39 years old||37.1 inches|
|40-59 years old||39.4 inches|
|60+ years old||39.9 inches|
|All (20 and over)||38.6 inches|
Waist circumference for girls and adolescent females
The table displays the average waist circumference measurements for girls and adolescent females by age group for the years 1999-2002, 2003-2006, 2007-2010, 2011-2014, and 2015-2018.
The data shows that waist circumference generally increases with age, with the average waist circumference for a 2-year-old girl being 19 inches and increasing to 34.6 inches for a 19-year-old.
However, there are some variations in the measurements across the years, and some age groups show a slight decrease in waist circumference.
|Girls, by age (years)||1999-2002||2003-2006||2007-2010||2011-2014||2015-2018|
Average waist size for men
As for men, the average waist size for men aged 20 and above is 40.5 inches or 102.9 cms.
The average male waist circumference for a man aged 20-29 is 37.1 inches, and this number jumps to 40.4 inches for a man aged 30-39 and 41 inches for a man in the 40-49 age range.
The average waist size for an average man drops a little more than a couple of inches to 41.1 when a male enters his 80s.
|20-39 years old||38.7 inches|
|40-59 years old||40.7 inches|
|60+ years old||42.0 inches|
|All (20 and over)||40.2 inches|
Waist circumference for boys and adolescent males
The table shows the average waist circumference for boys and adolescent males by age range from 1999-2002 to 2015-2018.
The data indicates that the average waist circumference for boys increases with age, with an average of 19.2 inches for 2-year-olds and gradually increasing to 35.2 inches for 19-year-olds.
However, there are some fluctuations in the numbers, with some age ranges showing a slight decrease or increase in the average waist circumference.
Overall, the data suggests that boys should keep track of their waist circumference as they grow older to ensure they maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of health problems later in life.
|Boys, by age (years)||1999-2002||2003-2006||2007-2010||2011-2014||2015-2018|
Waist sizes over time, keeps expanding
The graph shows the average waist sizes for men and women over time from 1999 to 2015. The data reveals that waist sizes have been increasing steadily over the years.
In 1999-2000, the average waist size for all adults was 37.6 inches, with women having an average waist size of 36.3 inches, and men having an average waist size of 39 inches.
By 2015, the average waist size for all adults had increased to 39.4 inches, with women having an average waist size of 38.4 inches and men having an average waist size of 40.2 inches.
The data suggests that there has been a significant increase in waist sizes for both men and women over the past two decades, which is a cause for concern given the health risks associated with excess abdominal fat.
Ethnicity/Race matters for waist size
Examining the data below, it is evident that race plays a role in average waist sizes for both men and women.
Asian individuals have the smallest waist sizes on average, while Hispanic individuals have the largest.
The data also shows that men generally have larger waist sizes than women within each racial group, with the exception of the Black community.
Taking a closer look at the data, it is evident that Hispanic men have the largest waist size among the groups, with an average of 40.3 inches
|White||39.5 inches||38.4 inches||40.6 inches|
|Black||39.65 inches||40.2 inches||39.1 inches|
|Asian||34.85 inches||33.7 inches||36.0 inches|
|Hispanic||39.85 inches||39.4 inches||40.3 inches|
Average Waist size by countries, US vs. other countries
|Country||Men’s waist size (inches)||Women’s waist size (inches)|
Here are the top 5 countries with the largest average waist size, followed by the top 5 countries with the smallest average waist size:
Top 5 countries with largest average waist size (men and women):
- United States
- United Kingdom
Top 5 countries with smallest average waist size (men and women):
- South Korea
Ideal waist sizes
|Organization||Definition of abdominal obesity for women||Definition of abdominal obesity for men|
|AHA, NIH||> 35.0 inches||> 40.0 inches|
|IDF||> 31.5 inches||> 35.5 inches|
|WHO||> 31.5 inches||> 37.0 inches|
However, recent research suggests that waist circumference should not exceed half of an individual’s height.
Excess fat around the waist is often associated with an increased risk of several health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. This is because abdominal fat can accumulate around the organs in the abdominal cavity, increasing the risk of metabolic dysfunction and inflammation.
Maintaining a healthy waist circumference is crucial for overall health and well-being. Eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity can help to reduce abdominal fat and maintain a healthy waist size. In addition, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption can also help to improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
While the ideal waist circumference may vary based on individual factors, taking proactive steps towards maintaining a healthy waist size can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve overall health and well-being.
The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is another useful measure of body composition that can help to determine an individual’s risk of chronic diseases. It is calculated by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference.
Studies have shown that individuals with higher WHR values are at a greater risk of developing health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. This is because an increased WHR is indicative of higher levels of visceral fat, which accumulates around the organs in the abdominal cavity and is associated with metabolic dysfunction and inflammation.
A WHR of 0.85 or higher for women and 0.90 or higher for men is considered to be high, indicating an increased risk of health problems. A healthy WHR for women is between 0.67 and 0.80, while for men, it is between 0.85 and 0.90.
Maintaining a healthy waist-to-hip ratio is important for overall health and well-being. Similar to waist circumference, engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can help to reduce visceral fat and maintain a healthy WHR.
Measuring both waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio can provide a more comprehensive picture of an individual’s body composition and overall health. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action to maintain a healthy waist-to-hip ratio and overall health.
The waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) is another useful tool to assess an individual’s body composition and health risk. It is calculated by dividing the waist circumference by the height of the individual.
Research suggests that a WHtR of 0.5 or less is indicative of a healthy body composition, with a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. This is because excess visceral fat, which is associated with these health problems, is typically stored around the waistline.
The WHtR is particularly useful for individuals with a higher BMI as it accounts for differences in body frame size and muscle mass. In contrast, BMI alone may not accurately reflect body composition, particularly for individuals with a high level of muscle mass.
Maintaining a healthy WHtR is crucial for overall health and well-being. Engaging in regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can help to reduce waist circumference and maintain a healthy WHtR.
Overall, the WHtR is a simple and effective measure of an individual’s health risk, particularly for those with a higher BMI or muscle mass. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action to maintain a healthy WHtR and overall health.
How to measure waist circumference
Measuring waist circumference is an essential aspect of assessing one’s health and is a straightforward and simple process. Waist circumference is a useful indicator of visceral fat, which is the fat surrounding the abdominal organs and is associated with an increased risk of several health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.
To measure waist circumference, a person needs a measuring tape and a flat surface. Here are the steps to follow:
- Find the waist: The first step is to locate the waist. The waist is the narrowest part of the torso, usually located just above the belly button and below the rib cage.
- Stand up straight: The person being measured should stand up straight, with their feet shoulder-width apart and their arms hanging naturally at their sides.
- Place the measuring tape: Wrap the measuring tape around the waist, making sure that it is level with the navel and snug but not too tight. The tape should be in contact with the skin but not compressing it.
- Read the measurement: Read the measurement on the tape measure at the end of the exhale, and record the measurement in inches or centimeters.
It is crucial to measure waist circumference correctly to obtain accurate and consistent results. Some factors can affect the measurement of waist circumference, including the following:
- Clothing: Clothing can interfere with accurate measurements. It is recommended to measure the waist circumference without any bulky clothing, including jackets or sweaters.
- Posture: Poor posture can affect the accuracy of the measurement. It is recommended to stand up straight with shoulders relaxed and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Measuring tape tension: The measuring tape should be snug, but not too tight. If the measuring tape is too tight, it can compress the skin, leading to inaccurate results.
- Location of the waist: The waist’s location can vary depending on factors such as age, gender, and body shape. In some cases, it may be necessary to measure at a different point to obtain a more accurate measurement.
- Time of day: Waist circumference measurements can vary throughout the day, depending on factors such as food intake and physical activity. For consistent results, it is recommended to measure the waist circumference at the same time each day.
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