The Critical Body logo

Is a 33 inch waist big or small for women and men?

Learn if your 33 inch waist is big or small, according to science.
Written By  Brianna Martin
Last Updated on 9th March 2022
A man demonstrating what a 33 inch waist looks like

If you want to learn how big or how small a 33 inch waist is for your height, gender, build, and body fat level, then you're in the right place.

Before we begin, though, make sure that you know how to measure your waist circumference correctly so that you can get the most accurate data.

You can also see how your waist compares by checking out the articles below.

Is a 33 inch waist big for a woman?

A woman grabbing her 33 inch waist

Is a 33 inch waist fat for a woman? No, a 33 inch waist isn't extremely fat for a woman, but it's definitely not small, either. Indeed, health experts note that if you're a woman with a 33″ waist, then you're at a high risk for health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. [1]

So, in the majority of cases, while a 33 in waist size might not look fat, it's still too big for a woman to live in optimal health.

The good news is that it's only too big by a couple of inches (anything under 31.5 inches is considered low risk).

You can lose belly fat by decreasing your calorie intake and increasing your activity level. Doing this will put your body in an energy deficit, which is a prerequisite for successful weight loss.

Is a 33 inch waist small for a man?

A man measuring his 33 inch waist

Based on American anthropometric data, a 33 inch waist is smaller than average for a man by nearly 8 inches. Some people may consider a 33 inch waistline to be a medium size, while others would say that it's definitely small.

Either way, it's highly unlikely that your 33 inch stomach is putting your health at risk since scientists recommend that men keep their waist below 35 inches to maintain good health. [2]

As you'll learn in just a moment, your body composition also influences how healthy a given waist size is.

How about a 33.5 inch waist?

A female measuring her 33 inch waist

While not absolutely tiny, a 33.5 inch waist is still far smaller than average and below the cut-off point for being considered low risk for various chronic diseases.

If you're well over 6 feet tall and have a large build, then you might naturally have a 33.5 inch waist or a 33.6 inch waist without having much body fat.

Of course, some people with smaller builds also have a 33.5 inch waist, in which case it's likely that a larger proportion of their midsection consists of fat mass rather than bone mass.

What does a 33 inch waist look like?

A woman pinching some fat on her 33 in waist

What does a 33 inch waist look like exactly? A 33 inch waist will look normal and healthy for the vast majority of men and, if anything, slightly on the slim side. For most women, however, a 33 inch waist will look bigger—too big, in many cases—but not necessarily outright fat.

The reason that it's recommended for women to keep their waists below 31.5 inches is that having a large waist circumference is an indicator of having excessive amounts of visceral fat, which is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat. [3]

Note the emphasis of the word indicator. If you have a 33″ waist due to having well-developed abs and obliques, then it's unlikely that health experts would declare your waist too big.

Muscle mass and fat tissue are not the same thing. You're much better off having a muscular and somewhat lean 33 inch stomach than you are having a 33 inch waist of mainly fat and minimum muscle.

Of course, women who have toned abs are unlikely to have a 33 inch waist, so this advice mainly applies to men, for whom a 33 in waist, in and of itself, is no cause for concern.

Conclusion: Is it ok to have a 33 inch waist?

A man showing that his 33 inch waist isn't very big

Health isn't measured by inches on the tape measure. Yet, that doesn't mean that certain circumference measurements can't be used to gauge your current and predict your future health status.

As mentioned, scientific research shows that a 33 inch waist is a couple of inches too big for a woman (this may not be the case if you're 6 feet tall, for example).

On the other hand, having a 33 inch waistline as a man is fine and not something that you should worry about. Indeed, many people would say that a 33 inch waist is slim for males or, at the very least, a medium measurement.

Of course, it's entirely possible to have a 33 in waist and still be unhealthy due to other factors. Nonetheless, the size of your waist remains a good indicator of your health status and risk for certain chronic diseases.

References

  1. East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. (2021). Body measuring techniques :: East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. Elht.Nhs.Uk. https://elht.nhs.uk/services/dietetics/body-measuring-techniques
  2. 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. (2020). Waist circumference as a vital sign in clinical practice: a Consensus Statement from the IAS and ICCR Working Group on Visceral Obesity. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 16(3), 177–189. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41574-019-0310-7
  3. Harvard Health. (2019, June 25). Abdominal fat and what to do about it. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it
Brianna Martin
Brianna Martin has worked in health and wellness media for more than 8 years. She uses her organisational skills and passion for fitness to organise our team of content creators. As a former track and field athlete, Bri still hits the gym hard 5 times a week to maintain her flexibility and athleticism.
chevron-upmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram