What is central obesity risk?

Defining central obesity with a simple sex-specific waist circumference threshold provides a simple diagnostic and clinical tool to define the risk of medical comorbidities.


Central obesity is defined by the International Diabetes Federation as an increased waist circumference using the guidelines in the table below which are gender and ethnic group (not the country of residence) specific.

Central obesity is independently associated with components of metabolic syndrome, including insulin resistance, and as such is a prerequisite risk factor for diagnosing metabolic syndrome. Central obesity is also extensively associated with increased visceral fat.

The consensus group acknowledges that these are pragmatic cut-points taken from various different data sources and that better data will be needed to link these to risk.

Europids, Ethnic South and Central Americans, Sub-saharan Africans, Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (Arab) Populations

Male (Waist Circumference)
  • Low Risk: ≤ 93cm
  • Medium Risk: ≥94cm< 102 cm
  • High Risk: ≥102cm
Female (Waist Circumference)
  • Low Risk: ≤ 79cm
  • Medium Risk: ≥80cm< 88cm
  • High Risk: ≥88cm

South Asians, Chinese, Japanese Populations

Male (Waist Circumference)
  • Low Risk: ≤ 89cm
  • High Risk: ≥90cm
Female (Waist Circumference)
  • Low Risk: ≤ 79cm
  • High Risk: ≥80cm