Watch your waist

To evaluate your overall health, pick up a tape measure

If you hate stepping on the scales, you’ll be happy to hear that your weight isn’t necessarily a fair gauge of how healthy you are. In fact, half of all overweight people actually have normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, reports a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. A better barometer is the size of your waistline, say experts―any measurement under 35 inches is considered healthy.

Why is this number so important? Carrying excess fat around your middle is particularly dangerous, because it causes your body to produce hormones that can make you resistant to insulin and cause inflammation, which may increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

To find your number, wrap a tape measure around your waist. Follow these instructions to get the most accurate reading:

1. Place the end of the measuring tape against your bare stomach one inch above your navel. Hold it in place with one hand.
2. Using your free hand, wrap the tape around your waist until it meets up with the other end.
3. Make sure the tape is snug but does not compress your skin and is parallel to the floor.