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Is having a 39 inch waist normal for women and men?

Learn why having a 39 inch waist is unhealthy even though it's normal.
Written By  Brianna Martin
Last Updated on 9th March 2022
A male measuring his 39 inch waist

If you have a 39 inch waist, then you actually have a relatively normal waist circumference.

Now, just because your waist is normal doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re healthy, at least not optimally so.

With that said, this guide will help you understand how your 39 in waist can impact your short-term wellbeing and your long-term health.

Related Waist Guides:

What does a 39 inch waist look like?

A man demonstrating what a 39 inch waist looks like

What exactly does a 39 inch waist look like? For men and women, a 39 inch waist looks normal but large. This is to say that many men and women have excessively large waists—39 inches is about normal—in relation to what researchers and health practitioners recommend. [1]

You can, of course, have a 39 inch waist and be completely happy with your body. However, you likely can’t have a 39″ waist and live in optimal health.

Practically speaking, since a 39 inch waistline is quite large, it may be visible when you wear regular clothing. This appearance won’t bother everyone, but it may make some individuals feel self-conscious.

Additionally, if you have a lot of abdominal muscle mass, then your 39 inch waistline might look big but not necessarily fat. This is because a bigger proportion of your waist measurement will consist of lean muscle mass.

How big is a 39 inch waist for a woman?

A female with a big 39 inch waist

For a woman, a 39 inch waist is an average size. However, such a measurement, according to research, is still too big for a female to live in optimal health.

Additionally, if you have a 39″ waist, then you also likely have a high BMI. Ultimately, the data shows that both a high BMI and an excessive waist circumference are correlated with metabolic disorders and hypertension. [2]

Obviously, since having a 39 inch waistline is far from abnormal for a woman, you shouldn’t be too harsh on yourself. Indeed, the last thing you want to do is crash diet or follow an unsustainable exercise regime in an effort to lose weight.

Of course, certain individuals will naturally be more self-conscious about their 39 inch waist size than others. In this case, wearing loose-fitting clothing can help to draw attention away from your stomach, which may otherwise protrude through your clothing if it’s more tight-fitting.

Is a 39 inch waist big for a man?

A man measuring his large 39 inch waistline

Although a 39 inch waist is a normal size for a man based on US anthropometric research, 39 inches is still too big for a man to be considered healthy. Indeed, scientists commonly recommend between 35 and 40 inches as the safe upper limit for a man to be in optimal health.

At 39 inches, your waist is excessively large and could be an indication that you have harmful visceral fat around your organs, which can lead to conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Many men naturally store more body fat around their stomach than on their legs or hips, so losing belly fat can be a frustrating experience. However, by following a healthy whole foods diet and a straightforward exercise routine, you can reliably lose weight and slim your waist, which will improve both your health and body composition.

How to slim your 39 inch waistline naturally

A sporty overweight woman with a 39 inch waist

Increasing your activity level and decreasing your calorie intake will help to put your body in an energy deficit, which is an absolute must for weight loss.

For optimal health, however, it’s not a simple calories in vs calories out equation (although, it is for weight loss).

Focus on eating healthy foods. Salmon, for example, has plenty of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which support your heart and brain health. [3] Green vegetables, whole grains, fruits, yogurt, nuts, and seeds are other tasty, versatile, and healthy food sources that you should include in your diet.

Whole foods are more satiating than junk food, so you’ll naturally feel fuller for longer when you switch to a healthier diet.

In conclusion

Close up of a woman's 39 in waist

Sometimes it seems like everyone has a slim and muscular body. And although many people may well aspire to such kinds of physique, the reality is that most people—on average—actually have a 39 inch waist or a measurement within a few inches of this number.

Of course, this isn’t a positive thing in terms of your physical health, since having a 39 in waist can increase your risk of developing certain chronic diseases.

Still, it’s possible to be happy with your body even if it’s bigger than average. And the great thing is that you have the power to make a change and dramatically improve your body composition and health in a relatively short space of time (months, not years).

References

  1. 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
  2. Janssen, I., Katzmarzyk, P. T., & Ross, R. (2004). Waist circumference and not body mass index explains obesity-related health risk. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(3), 379–384. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/79.3.379
  3. Hodges, C. (2020, September 18). 10 Foods You Should Eat Every Week to Lose Weight. EatingWell. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7866255/foods-you-should-eat-every-week-to-lose-weight/
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.
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