What’s your waist size?

Belly fat is the type of fat that’s bad for your health as well as the type that men are more likely to have than women, says the Men’s Health Forum.

And this year, belly fat is the subject of the charity’s Men’s Health Week, during which the male population of the UK is asked a vital question: Do you have a hazardous waist?

So why exactly is belly fat worse than fat elsewhere on the body? According to the Men’s Health Forum, belly fat is a problem because it doesn’t just sit beneath the surface of your skin, it also gets deep within the body and surrounds your vital organs. If you have a lot of belly fat – even if you’re not otherwise overweight – it can increase your risk of several serious illnesses, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance
  • Colon cancer
  • Sleep apnoea
  • High blood pressure
  • Erection problems
  • Premature death from any cause

“Men are more likely to be overweight, more likely to face health problems such as diabetes because they are overweight, and less likely to get support to tackle their weight problems from health professionals,” says Men’s Health Forum chief executive, Martin Tod.

“And when they are offered help, too many of the services they are offered don’t reflect the latest research and don’t meet their needs. Our goal for Men’s Health Week 2017 is to help more men take action to address their weight problems, but also to get more services in place that are designed to work for men.”

How to measure your waist

You don’t have to have any special equipment to find out if your waist size is putting your health at risk, not even a pair of bathroom scales. All you need is a tape measure. But as the Men’s Health Forum says, it’s not about your trouser size – you have to measure around your stomach at the correct point. Here’s how to do it:

  • Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips/
  • Put the tape measure around the midway spot between the two (usually where your belly button is).
  • Breathe out naturally before taking the measurement.

If your waist measurement is more than 37in (94cm), you have a higher risk of having health problems. If your waist measurement is more than 40in (102cm), your health problem risk is considerably higher than normal.

So what can you do if your waist size isn’t healthy? The advice from Men’s Health Week is in three simple steps: move more, eat well, watch the booze. In its Hazardous Waist Toolbox Talk, the charity also offers the following tips:

  • Eat slowly, chew each mouthful.
  • Don’t watch TV, read or surf when eating.
  • Think about healthy snacks as well as healthy meals.
  • Think about portion size.
  • Drink water (not sugary drinks)
  • Keep active – replace a car journey with a bike ride or walk.

Men’s Health Week runs from June 12 – 18, 2017. There’s lots more information about the event as well as men’s health in general on the Men’s Health Forum website. You can also ask your local Careway pharmacist for advice about losing weight, including how products you can buy over the counter may help. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.