Waistline measurements have stretched to record levels as the obesity crisis takes hold, figures reveal.
Women’s waists grew an average of three inches in 24 years and men’s are nearly two inches bigger – increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, data shows.
Experts have long warned that many more of us are overweight than we were in the past.
But data published by NHS Digital reveals the impact this is having on English waist sizes – a better marker of health than weight or body mass index (BMI) alone.
Women’s waists grew an average of three inches in 24 years and men’s are nearly two inches bigger
BMI does not differentiate between muscle and fat, whereas extra inches around the waist suggest fat surrounding crucial organs.
Yesterday, a report showed hospital admissions due to obesity soared by almost 100,000 last year – 15 per cent more than in 2017 – as experts warned fat patients put an intolerable strain on the NHS.
And the World Health Organisation last year found the UK had the third biggest obesity problem of 53 European nations, with 29 per cent of women and 27 per cent of men obese.
The figures, ranging from 1993 to 2017, show at the latest count that the average waist size of an adult English woman was a record 35.2 inches – up from 32.2 inches 24 years previously. Men had an average waist of 38.5 inches in 2017 – up from 36.7 in 1993.
Experts said obesity has become so normal that clothes have increased in size so Britons do not know they are getting fatter.
And every extra inch on the waistline raises the odds of bowel cancer by 3 per cent, even if the rest of your body is trim. Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘The figures for both men and women are very concerning – and if either have a waist measurement over half their height they should get a grip on their lifestyle.’
Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said combining BMI and waist size gives a ‘more comprehensive’ view of body weight and fat distribution.