Waist Circumference as a Vital Sign in Clinical Practice. A Consensus Statement.

Nat Rev Endocrinology. 2020 Mar; 16(3):177-189. doi: 10.1038/s41574-019-0310-7.
Ross, R., Neeland, I. J., Yamashita, S., Shai, I., Seidell, J., Magni, P., Santos, R. D., Arsenault, B., Cuevas, A., Hu, F. B., Griffin, B. A., Zambon, A., Barter, P., Fruchart, J. C., Eckel, R. H., Matsuzawa, Y., & Després, J. P.


Despite decades of unequivocal evidence that waist circumference provides both independent and additive information to BMI for predicting morbidity and risk of death, this measurement is not routinely obtained in clinical practice. This Consensus Statement proposes that measurements of waist circumference afford practitioners with an important opportunity to improve the management and health of patients. We argue that BMI alone is not sufficient to properly assess or manage the cardiometabolic risk associated with increased adiposity in adults and provide a thorough review of the evidence that will empower health practitioners and professional societies to routinely include waist circumference in the evaluation and management of patients with overweight or obesity. We recommend that decreases in waist circumference are a critically important treatment target for reducing adverse health risks for both men and women. Moreover, we describe evidence that clinically relevant reductions in waist circumference can be achieved by routine, moderate-intensity exercise and/or dietary interventions. We identify gaps in the knowledge, including the refinement of waist circumference threshold values for a given BMI category, to optimize obesity risk stratification across age, sex and ethnicity. We recommend that health professionals are trained to properly perform this simple measurement and consider it as an important 'vital sign' in clinical practice.

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List of abbreviations

DGEM German Society for Nutritional Medicine (German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin)
GESKES  Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (German Gesellschaft für klinische Ernährung der Schweiz) 
ESPEN European Society of Clinicl Nutrition and Metabolism