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January 1, 2021
4 min read

Obesity is prevalent in developed countries. It is a major risk factor attributed to the development of various lifestyle diseases.

Obesity is defined as general obesity where the BMI is higher than 25 for the Asian population and more than 30 for the rest of the population1,2.

Nutritional StatusWHO criteria (kg/m2)Criteria for Asian Population (kg/m2)
Obese type 1 (obese)30-4030-40
Obese type 2 (morbidly obese)40.1-5040.1-50
Obese type 3 (super obese)>50>50

Abdominal obesity also defined as a waist circumference has a close relationship with central body fat accumulation and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases independent of general obesity3. The high prevalence of abdominal obesity is a striking feature of Asian Indians and all South Asians4. It can occur even in the absence of elevated body mass index (BMI) less than 20 kg/m2. Asian populations have 3% to 5% higher body fat than others at an identical BMI5.

Waist Circumference Ranges:

Health RiskWomenMen
Low riskbelow 31.5 inchesbelow 37 inches
Moderate risk31.5 to 35 inches37 to 40 inches
High risk35 inches or more40.2 inches or more

Waist circumference is found to be the best measurement of obesity whereas Waist to Hip Ratio(WHR) could be used as an alternative indicator for obesity6.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in both men and women, a WHR of 1.0 or higher increases the risk for heart disease and other conditions that are linked to being overweight7.

Waist to Hip Ratio

GenderExcellentGoodAverageAt Risk

There are increasing concerns regarding the impact of obesity on BMI and longevity8. Obesity can be prevented or reversed by following a healthy and active lifestyle.

A moderate reduction in weight by 5-10% is associated with meaningful improvements in obesity-related metabolic risk factors9. So a comprehensive dietary approach would help to reduce the weight and prevent obesity-related complications.


  1. Girdhar et al, S, An Epidemiological Study of Overweight and Obesity Among Women in an Urban Area of North India, Indian Journal of Community Medicine, 2016,41:2.

  2. Anuurad et al, The New BMI Criteria for Asians by the Regional Office for the Western Pacific Region of WHO are Suitable for Screening of Overweight to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome in Elder Japanese Workers, J Occup Health 2003; 45: 335–3

  3. Yusuf S., Hawken S., Ounpuu S. Obesity and the risk of myocardial infarction in 27,000 participants from 52 countries: a case-control study. Lancet. 2005;366:1640–1649.

  4. Misra A., Khurana L. Obesity-related non-communicable diseases: South Asians vs White Caucasians. International journal of obesity (2005). Jul 20, 2010.

  5. Enas EA, Kannan S. 1st ed. Downers Grove, IL: Advanced Heart Lipid Clinic; 2008. How to Beat the Heart Disease Epidemic among South Asians.

  6. Yang F, Lv JH, Lei SF, Chena XD. Receiver-operating characteristic analyses of body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio for obesity: Screening in young adults in the central south of China. Clin Nut. 2006;25:1030–9.

  7. Sarbjit et al, Waist to hip ratio and waist circumference as simple measures of cardiovascular risk assessment and weight management among medical students; J. of evidence-based medical and healthcare;2018, 5(3):237-242.

  8. Fontaine KR, Redden DT, Wang C, Westfall AO, Allison DB. Years of Life Lost Due to Obesity. JAMA. 2003;289(2):187–193.

  9. Marion J. Franz, Weight Management: Obesity to Diabetes, Diabetes Spectrum 2017 Aug; 30(3): 149-153.

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