Waist to Hip Ratio
Body Mass Index (BMI) as a means of assessing risk in those who are overweight or obese, was invented in the 19th century and despite its manifest inadequacies, has become remarkably persistent. For many years researchers have been looking for simpler and more accurate predictors of complications such as diabetes, heart disease etc in those with weight problems and found that a better alternative to BMI is the waist measurement. Unfortunately this requires that everyone can remember what is a “safe” waist measurement (shown below) and there are differing cut-offs depending on ethnic origin.
Now researchers have come
up with a much simpler alternative which is easy to remember and applies
whatever your ethnic background: the waist/height ratio....... Simply,
if you divide your waist measurement by your height (in inches or cms)
the answer should be less than 0.5. So for a 5ft 5” (65 inches) woman
with a waist measurement of 42”, her waist/height ratio is 0.6 which
puts her at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers
etc. A 6ft male, on the other hand, would need a waist measurement of
35” for a ratio of 0.49 – just under the cut-off point.
Example - Waist 42" divided by Height 65" = 0.646
In the study, researchers used a technique called meta-analysis to determine which combination of the various anthropometric measures (height, weight, waist etc) works best for predicting weight-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. A total of 31 studies were included in the analysis involving more than 300,000 adults in various ethnic groups. Although waist measurement alone was a good predictor of outcomes (better than BMI), the waist/height ratio was significantly better than waist measurement alone or BMI.
So whatever your nationality, the message is to keep your waist/height ratio below 0.5.
Waist circumference is now an important factor in weight and body-fat assessment. This is because total body fat is no longer seen as the key indicator of weight-related health problems. Fat distribution is just as important. For example, body fat that accumulates around the waist and stomach area (abdominal fat) poses a greater health risk than fat stored in the lower half of the body. A high waist circumference is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and CVD in patients with a body mass index (BMI) between 25-34.9. Furthermore, in obese patients with metabolic complications, changes in waist circumference are useful predictors of changes in CVD risk factors.
Unlike subcutaneous fat which primarily resides directly under the skin, there is a much more dangerous type of fat to be aware of – visceral fat. This type of fat hides around the nooks and crannies deep within your abdomen and creates a cellulite swamp of fatty tissue covering organs and clotting arteries, unfortunately its harder to get rid of than subcutaneous fat, but harder doesn’t mean impossible. Reducing your weight, opting for healthy foods, stopping smoking, reducing stress and increasing exercise will all help.
Undoubtedly you’ve heard the terms “pot belly” and “beer
belly”.... This is visceral fat thats taken up residence in the abdominal cavity,
especially around the liver, and can cause quite a protuberance if
ignored. Sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets are the main culprits
for this type of fat overload, getting rid of visceral fat and maintaining a balanced diet along with
regular exercise is your ticket to a longer, slimmer and healthier life!
How to measure your waist
- Find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs.
- Breathe out naturally.
- Place the tape measure midway between these points and wrap it around your waist.
- Check your measurement.
Why are there separate measurements for Asian men and women?People of Asian backgrounds tend to have a higher proportion of body fat to muscle than the rest of the UK population. They also tend to carry this fat around the middle. This leads to a greater risk of developing problems such as diabetes and coronary heart disease at a lower waist size than other people in the UK
Measuring your Waist & Information from the British Heart Foundation
| Your health is at risk if
you have a waist size of:
|Your health is at HIGH risk
if you have a waist size of:
|Men||Over 94cm (about 37 inches)||Over 102cm (about 40 inches)|
|Women||Over 80cm (about 31.5 inches)||Over 88cm (about 34.5 inches)|
||Over 90cm (about 35.5 inches)|
||Over 80cm (about 31.5 inches)|
There are two basic body shapes - "Apples" and "Pears" - each exhibiting a different distribution of body fat.
Apple-shaped individuals carry most of their excess body fat around their middle (abdomen), while pear-shaped people carry most of their excess body fat on their hips, buttocks and thighs. Although genetics plays a major role in determining body shape, gender and age are also important factors. For example, women typically collect fat on their hips and buttocks, giving them a "Pear" shape, while men generally collect weight around the belly, giving them an "Apple" shape.
After menopause, as estrogen supplies dwindle, women start storing
fat around their abdomen, becoming more Apple-shaped in the process.
Health Risks of Apple Shape
Apple-shape people with fat concentrated around the abdomen, are more likely than Pear-shaped people to develop health problems related to obesity. Intra-abdominal fat (IAF) is closely associated with Type 2 Diabetes as well as insulin resistance. This kind of abdominal or central fat is also associated with increased risk of hormonal cancers (e.g. breast cancer), ovulatory dysfunction and sleep apnea. Thus Apple-shaped individuals have a greater risk of weight-related disorders and need to pay close attention to normalizing their weight.
Waist Hip Ratio Test One way to know if you're an "Apple" or a "Pear" is to test your waist-to-hip ratio by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement.Women with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 0.8 or men with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 1.0 are "apples" and are at increased health risk due to their fat distribution. Waist Circumference Test Measuring your waist is another way to check whether your have too much fat around the middle. For example, in women, central obesity is signalled by a waist circumference of about 35+ inches, while in men the danger waist measurement is 40+ inches