Do you find yourself sucking in to do up your pants, or adjusting your waistband as you move about?

While jumping on the scales will tell you how your weight loss efforts are going, it's not a reflection of how healthy you are.

You may be happy with what the scales are telling you, but a far more important indicator is the amount of weight you're carrying around your middle.

A pronounced tummy can be a warning sign that you're at risk of diabetes, heart disease and other health issues.

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So if it comes down to your shape, what's the healthiest option? Being "pear shaped", with a small waist compared to your derriere, is much better than being an "apple", says weight loss specialist Sally Norton.

In an article for the Daily Mail, Norton explains that there is a magic ratio to work out how healthy your shape is:

• Wrap a tape measure around your middle, halfway between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone, and make a note of the number.

• Measure the widest part of your hips, including your backside.

For a man, if you waist to hip ratio is one or more, or 0.85 for a woman, your health could be at risk, says Norton.

Why is tummy fat a risk?

Depending on your gender, genetics, stress levels and use of certain drugs, fat is distributed differently in people.

If you can "pinch more than an inch", you need to look at making some changes.

Having a big belly is a sign of excess fat in the liver and around other internal organs which could signal high blood pressure, fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes, a predisposition for heart attacks, strokes and more.

READ MORE: • Top tips for moving stomach fat