Like UW Carbone Cancer Center on Facebook

Body Mass Index and Waist Circumference

Maintaining a healthy body weight is important. Being overweight has been linked to the following types of cancers including: esophagus, pancreas, colon, rectum, endometrial, kidney, postmenopausal breast and gallbladder. Being underweight can cause low energy levels and can impair your ability to fight infections.


For most adults, calculating body mass index (BMI) is a good way to assess your weight. BMI may not be an accurate measure for all adults including those with more muscle mass, like athletes and seniors with lower muscle mass.


You can calculate your BMI using the National Institutes of Health calculator.


Waist Circumference


Waist circumference is another method used to assess body weight. All you need is a tape measure and then follow these simple steps:

  • Place a tape measure around your waist above the tip of your hipbone.
  • Measure your waist after exhaling.
  • For women, a waist measurement of 31.5 inches or more indicates high risk. For men, a waist measurement of 37 inches or more indicates high risk.

These suggestions are not meant to replace talking to your doctor and registered dietitian. For more information, schedule an appointment with the Registered Dietitian at the UW Carbone Cancer Center by contacting Cancer Connect by calling (608) 265-1700.