Too much abdominal fat puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. It means you need to lose weight.
By measuring your waist circumference, doctors can track your body composition before, during, and after your weight loss efforts.
A waist circumference greater than 32 inches (80cm) for a woman or 37 inches (94cm) for a man increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
If the measurement is more than 35 inches (88cm) for a woman or 40 inches (102cm) for a man, you are at very high risk.
Research also suggests people with extra fat around their middle are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease as those with normal amounts of fat.
A 2012 study found that people with larger waist measurements were more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes, regardless of their BMI..
Calculating your waist circumference
To measure your waist circumference, use a tape measure. Take the midpoint between the top of your hips and the bottom of your rib cage, then bring the tape all the way around -- level with your navel. Make sure it's not too tight and that it is parallel with the floor. Don't hold your breath while measuring it.