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What Is Average? Size 16 Is the New Normal for US Women

For American women, the old size 14 is the new 16, according to Today Style. The information comes courtesy of the Textile Institute, which did a study on women’s real body measurements. It found that over the last two decades, women’s average waist size has increased 2.6 inches.

While the popular thing to do these days is encourage women to embrace their curves, I’m more concerned that these extra inches, while “average,” may be more a reflection of your overall health — or ill health, depending on a number of things, such as your waist-to-hip ratio.

For example, carrying excess weight around your midsection is a potent risk factor for multiple chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. This is also known as the classic apple-shaped obesity. One study found that cardiovascular death was 2.75 times higher for those of normal weight who had big bellies compared to those with both a normal body mass index (BMI) and a normal waist-to-hip ratio. This can be true even for thin people, if they are “thick” around the waist.

So, no matter what your dress size is, there are things you can do to lower that number and your waist size, for example, high intensity interval training (HIIT) will help fight belly fat. Research supports this: one study showed that just 12 weeks of HIIT — short bursts of exercise — can result in significant reductions in total abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat.
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