Lean, his PhD student Han, and other colleagues in Glasgow using under-water weighing, MRI, CT and a range of biochemical measures, proposed that the waist circumference is the best simple indictor of total body fat content and of increased visceral fat in thin people.

The waist cut-offs >102 cm for men, >88 cm for women, indicated high risk from a range of diseases demanding professional help, and did not need to be adjusted for height, hips or any other dimension. Lower waist cut-offs, >94 cms in men, >80 cms in women, mark the point where body-fat accumulation begins to increase the risks, and so personal action should be taken.

Mike Lean, 2010

"More porridge, and less of everything."

These figurers have now been adopted for health promotion world-wide, and form the key diagnostic criterion for Metabolic Syndrome, whose other criteria all result from body fat accumulation. The first paper arguing for waist measurement as a single identification of people who might be at risk from being overweight was published in 1995.

Lean’s research offered the world a new, simple concept as a focus for highly cost-effective weight management bringing multiple health benefits. Diabetes and CHD are best prevented, and the waist points to the way to prevent them.