Study finds waist size more telling than BMI

Speak to your doctor about weight loss management options that might be best for you, particularly if you fall within the very high risk group.

People who think that they are healthy because their body mass index (BMI) falls within a “normal” range, could actually fall into a high-risk group because of other risk factors such as percentage of body fat and central obesity. Central obesity has been linked to an array of health problems and is measured by waist circumference.

This is according to a statement by iNova Pharmaceuticals as part of a consumer obesity awareness campaign during National Obesity Week, which runs from 15 to 19 October 2019.

Inova says a new study has found that waist size is more accurate at assessing whether you are at risk for an array of health problems than BMI.

BMI is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of the person’s height in metres (kg/m²). According to most criteria accepted around the world, a normal weight is defined as a BMI of 18.5 – 24.9.2 A patient is defined as overweight if they have a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 and are obese if their BMI is 30.0 and over.

Many healthcare practitioners rely solely on BMI to determine obesity-related health risks in their patients, but some of the problems with this include that BMI does not distinguish between muscle and fat, and it does not measure overall fat or lean tissue (muscle) content.

“The study by the University of Iowa found that women who are considered to be of normal weight as measured by their BMI could actually be at a high risk of many health problems or even death because of their waist size.

Waist measurement is a simple check to tell if you are carrying excess body fat around your middle, and can be an indicator of the level of internal fat deposits around the heart, kidneys, liver, digestive organs and pancreas. The bottom line is that you can have a healthy BMI and still have excess tummy fat, meaning that you are still at risk of developing some of these diseases,” says iNova in its statement.

How do you measure your waist?

  1. When taking measurements, pull the tape measure so that it sits on the surface of the skin, but does not compress the skin
  2. Find the top of your hip bone and bottom of your ribs
  3. Breathe out normally
  4. Place the tape measure between these points, and wrap it around your waist to get an accurate measurement
  5. In most people, your natural waist should be the narrowest part of your torso.

According to the World Health Organisation and National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations, men are at risk if their waist measurement is over 94cm. In women, the waist measurement should not be over 80cm.

Regardless of your height or BMI, you should try to lose weight if your waist measurements are putting your health at risk.

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