Validity of self-measured waist and hip circumferences: results from a community study in Malaysia

Nutr J. 2013 Oct 5;12:135. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-135.


Background: Measures of central adiposity are better predictors of adverse health events than BMI. Nonetheless, BMI is more widely used in health research. One reason for this may be the limited research supporting the self-measurement of waist and hip circumference. The lack of validity studies is particularly acute in Asia. The main objective was to establish the validity of self-measurement of waist and hip circumference in a community setting and the correlation of those measures with BMI, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.

Methods: A community based, cross-sectional survey. A "healthy living expo" at a shopping mall in a rural town on peninsular Malaysia One hundred and thirty six (136) individuals volunteered to participate in the study, 125 of whom met the inclusion criteria. The ethnic distribution of the participants was 80% Chinese, 17% Malay and 3% Indian. Most participants were female (60%), with participants' ages ranging from 18 to 78 years (mean, 47.2). Self and assisted measurements of waist and hip were taken. Blood pressure, non-fasting blood glucose, height, and weight were also measured. Bland Altman plots and Lin's concordance coefficient were used to measure agreement between self and assisted measures. Pearson's correlation was used to examine the association of self and assisted measures with blood pressure, blood glucose, and BMI.

Results: There was a downwards bias in self measured waist (-0.81 cm) and hip (-1 cm) circumferences compared with assisted measures. The concordance for the self and assisted measures of waist, hip and the ratio of the two were, respectively, .96, .93 , and .84. The correlation between measures of central adiposity and BMI, blood pressure and blood glucose were similar for self and assisted measures.

Conclusion: The results provide additional support for the use of self-measurement of waist and hip circumference studies of central adiposity, but is limited by the specificity of the setting.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Size*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Hip
  • Humans
  • Malaysia
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Overweight / diagnosis*
  • Overweight / pathology
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rural Health
  • Self Care*
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers