The waistlines of more than half of women are too big, experts have said, as they warned those who are overweight they are increasing their risk of cancer and infertility.
Researchers found that the average waist measurement for women is 4.9cm larger than the healthy size of less than 80cm.
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Larger waists could lead to an increased chance of fertility problems, cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Research by the health charity Nuffield Health examined data from more than 30,000 women and found that 57% have a waist larger than the healthy size.
It said women in the north of England have the largest waists, with an average circumference of 87cm. In London the average size is 81.9cm.
Researchers also said that 52.5% of the women have a body mass index in excess of the healthy range, while 16.2% have scores which found they were moderately or morbidly obese.
Dr Davina Deniszczyc, professional head of physicians and diagnostics at Nuffield Health, said: "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.
"The results for women highlight a worrying problem as fat being stored around the waist can contribute to significant health issues, such as breast cancer and infertility."
Tasty, Low-Calorie Snack Ideas
<strong>Calorie-count: </strong>55 calories per cupful of plain home-made popcorn with one teaspoon of oil If you don't have a microwave handy to pop your own, most fast food chains now stock low-calorie packs in a variety of flavours, including salt or sugar and salt. The modern pre-packed varieties will bump up your calorie count to approximately 125 calories. But steer clear of the old-school sticky toffee varieties as these are laden with sugar and calories.
<strong>Calorie count:</strong> 130 calories for 2 slices There are times when only cake will do - like 4pm when the sugar slump strikes. Satisfy your sweet cravings with the next best thing - cinnamon raisin toast. Top with low-fat spread or a drizzle of honey.
<strong>Calorie count:</strong> 100 calories per 85g tin of tuna (in water) Spread a small can of tuna on a rye crispbread for a mid-morning snack that will keep you full until lunchtime. Tuna is a great source of low-fat protein and is packed with Omega-3 fatty acid, renowned for its brain-boosting and mood-enhancing properties.
<strong>Calorie count:</strong> 104 calories for one cup If your idea of the perfect afternoon snack is a bag of Haribo, try sucking on frozen grapes instead. Rich in vitamins A, C, B6 and folate as well as the powerful antioxidants, flavanoids, grapes have been widely used to treat constipation, indigestion, fatigue, kidney disorders, asthma, heart disease and migraines.
<strong>Calorie count:</strong> 165 calories per ounce Sunflower seeds are a low-fat alternative to crisps when you need that crunchy, savoury hit. They are packed with vitamins such as vitamin B1 and B5, vitamin E and folate and also provide a healthy dose of minerals including copper, magnesium, selenium and phosphorous-important minerals.
<strong>Calorie count:</strong> 183 calories per one ounce Scientists claim eating just seven walnuts a day could help ward off disease and fight cholesterol. The antioxidants found in raw walnuts were found to be 15 times as powerful as Vitamin E, which can protect the body against damaging natural chemicals.
<strong>Calorie-count:</strong> 47 calories per handful Olives are rich in Vitamin E, which helps maintain healthy skin and gut. They are also a good source of antioxidants, essential for a strong immune system.