MONDAY, Dec. 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Measuring your waistline can help you determine if you have too much abdominal fat, which puts you at increased risk for a number of serious health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.
"This is because where you store your body fat is actually more important than how much fat you have," Dr. Lisa Giannetto, an assistant professor at Duke University's Executive Health Program, said in a prepared statement.
"People who carry more weight in their abdomen tend to have higher amounts of visceral fat, or abdominal fat, and that's a much higher risk for diseases such as heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes," she said.
To assess your girth, simply wrap a tape measure around the largest part of your waist.
"A waist size in women greater than 35 inches and a waist size in men greater than 40 inches is also a risk factor [along with high body mass index (BMI)], because we're concerned where the body fat is and where the weight is. It's definitely more dangerous to carry extra weight in the middle of your body than in the bottom half," Giannetto said.
"This is a measurement that's very easy for you to do and easy for your doctor to do. It's a tool, not an absolute, just as the BMI is a tool we use when we look at overall risk factors for disease in patients," she added.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases outlines the health risks of being overweight.