More than half of British women have waists that are larger than the recommended healthy size according to research from a health charity.

Nuffield Health's Dr Davina Deniszczyc said it was a "worrying problem" as overweight women risk an increased chance of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, infertility and cancer.

The researchers looked at data for more than 30,000 women in the UK and found the average waist measurement is 84.9cm (33.43in), compared with the healthy size of 80cm (31.49in).

Dr Deniszczyc, who is Nuffield's professional head of physicians and diagnostics, said: "Fat being stored around the waist can contribute to significant health issues, such as breast cancer and infertility."

The Nuffield research showed that women in the north of England have the largest waists, with an average circumference of 87cm, compared to 81.9cm in London.

Meanwhile, researchers also said 52.5% of the women have a body mass index higher than the healthy range, while 16.2% were moderately or morbidly obese.

Dr Deniszczyc added: "Whilst waist size may seem like a cosmetic issue, this isn't about women fitting into their skinny jeans. Rather, it's an important indicator of overall health and well-being, particularly when taken into account with other health measurements.

Posted 25/06/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com