Goodbye, BMI? Waist-to-Height Ratio Gaining Steam

While BMI remains widely used as an indicator to measure body fat and associated health risks, recent research indicates that another ratio may be more useful in determining health risks, according to a recent report by Denise Mann at WebMD Health News. Its benefits include greater accuracy and an easier way to measure your own body fat and health risks.

A Woman Measuring Her Waist

Body mass index (BMI), which is based on height and weight, is often used to determine whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. However, this approach has significant limitations. For example, muscle is heavier than fat, so that muscular individuals (such as athletes and bodybuilders) often present as obese under the BMI.

The new research, which was presented at the 19th European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, indicates that your waist-to-height ratio might be more useful in determining your health. It involved reviewing 31 studies of more than 300,000 men and women. Waist-to-height ratio proved to be more accurate than BMI (and also better than waist circumference alone) in predicting certain health risks that have been linked to obesity. These included high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Another report presented at the Lyon conference reinforce this study’s findings by showing how a 30-year-old non-smoking man would have a reduced life expectancy – by as much as 14 percent – if his waist circumference is more than half of his height.

Dr. Margaret Ashwell, one of the researchers, argues that the waist-to-height ratio should replace BMI and waist circumference as reliable measurements for obesity and health risks. According to Dr. Pamela Peeke, a WebMD lifestyle expert quoted in the article, one of the big benefits of the waist-to-height ratio is how easy it is to take the measurement.

“Take out your tape measure, and really pay attention to your waist and waist-to-height ratio… This is the way to go, and it puts you in touch with your body.” For the most accurate measurement, you should place the tape measure at the level of your belly button.

In the midst of the obesity epidemic, many overweight individuals are pursuing weight-loss surgeries that can help them shed excess pounds when diet and exercise have not helped. Patients who undergo weight loss surgery often require plastic surgeries in order to remove excess skin. These procedures include the arm liftbody lift, buttocks lift, tummy tuck, thigh lift, and upper body lift. Liposuction is also sometimes used in order to tighten up certain areas that may not have responded to the overall weight loss.

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