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Your waistline defines your health; the smaller it is, the better

 Your waistline defines your health; the smaller it is, the better (Photo: iStock)

There was a time when a large waistline was equated to wealth and well-being. But that’s no longer the case. It’s long been apparent that large waistlines are linked to several disease conditions.

This is so much so that a UK health authority has recently issued public guidelines on how to measure and monitor waistlines, and what to do for those measuring beyond defined limits.

So how is a large waistline linked to health? Large waistlines are mostly due to excessive weight around the abdomen. And most of it is fat buildup, medically described as central obesity. Such fat accumulation appears to raise the risks of heart disease, type two diabetes and associated conditions like high blood pressure and strokes.

But how do you know whether you have the right waistline for good health? The accepted ideal is a waistline that measures less than half your height. Measure your height first, then measure your waist at the mid-point between the lower edge of the ribcage and the top of your hips. You should consider yourself at a higher risk of disease if your waistline is larger than half your height.

A larger waistline means you are overweight. Consider taking appropriate steps to cut down on your weight, to lessen your risk of avoidable diseases. Simply watching what you eat is a good first step.

Refined and processed foods are best taken in moderation, or mostly avoided. Plant-based foods are the best, and lean animal products. Washing down your foods with water, rather than sugary drinks, is also a better alternative for your weight.

Your weight control also benefits from appropriate physical activities. Those who are physically active tend to burn more calories. Once this is combined with good dietary habits, you’ll be on your way to an optimal waistline. Any physical activities that you enjoy will do. It can be a brisk walk, a run, cycling, swimming, a gym workout, or anything that breaks out a sweat. You will reap more health benefits.

But others with large waistlines and high risk of disease will struggle to optimise their health parameters. If in such a category, you need medical help.

Your regular doctor can help with various strategies, which would still include lifestyle adjustments. Those too far gone can be helped with specific treatments and even surgical options.

So, stay conscious of your waistline. Measure it if in doubt, and take appropriate remedial measures if only for the sake of your long-term health.

 Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist.

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