question came to the Facebook page of our local hospital:
"I heard awhile back that a plain olí waist measurement
was a more useful health indicator than BMI (Body Mass Index).
Did they change their mind about that again?"
not sure who "they" are who changed their minds. But
this is a valid question about the methods used to evaluate
our weight in relation to our health. According to the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), both measurements have
benefits Ö and limitations.
waist measurement" is officially called "waist
circumference." It is the measurement ó in inches ó
around your middle, just above your hipbones, say experts.
This measurement helps identify the presence of dangerous
abdominal fat which puts one at increased risk for heart
disease and type 2 diabetes. A normal waist circumference
measurement for women is less than 35 inches; for men, it is
less than 40 inches. Generally as our waist size goes up from
normal, so do our health risks.
waist circumference does have some restrictions, however.
According to the NIH, it is not particularly useful in people
who are very short (under 5 feet) or very obese (BMI 35 and
waist circumference, Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation
based on a personís height and weight. It is often used with
waist circumference to better predict oneís risk for
weight-related diseases such as heart disease, high blood
pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Generally the
higher oneís BMI, the higher their risk for these chronic
one way to calculate BMI: Multiply your weight in pounds by
703. Divide that number by your height in inches. Divide that
number by your height in inches again. Or go to this link to
access an online BMI calculator: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm.
Mass Index is not a good indicator of health status in some
people, however. Since it relies on height and weight
measurements only, people who are heavy with muscle instead of
fat can be erroneously classified as obese. (Bodybuilders and
elite athletes come to mind.)
both these measurements are trying to assess is how much
unhealthy fat a person is carrying that affects his or her
health. Many practitioners use both methods to draw more
these basic and inexpensive tools, there are more advanced
techniques to measure the actual composition of our bodies
such as fat, muscle, bone, and water. Check out the options
with your health care provider.