Quinn on Nutrition: A measure for Dadís health

June 20, 2016

It is probably no coincidence that we celebrate Fatherís Day in June ó the same month that has been designated "Menís Health Month." Itís a good time, say health experts, to encourage dear olí dad (and all men) to get regular check ups and take care of little health issues before they become big health issues.

This is a very good idea because, on average, men put off regular health check ups more often than women. And not to be sexist, but statistically, men are more likely than women to make poor lifestyle choices that compromise their health.

So ó without nagging ó how can we help dear olí Dad recognize if he needs to make some changes in his health habits? Consider this unique and inexpensive Fatherís Day gift, (paired with a funny card and lots of hugs and kisses, of course): a tape measure. And before he tosses you out of the house, you might also want to give him a copy of this column for explanation.

Rather than what a man weighs, a good way to evaluate if his extra weight is a health risk, say experts, is to determine how much extra fat is around his middle. "Visceral fat" accumulates around internal organs like the liver, pancreas and intestines, according to an article on this subject in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And when this type of fat builds up in the abdomen, it increases the risk for diabetes and heart disease, two major killers of men.

Whatís Dadís goal? In general, the measurement around a manís waist below the rib cage and above the hip bones (or across the belly button if you canít find the other markers) should be below 40 inches, according to the National Institutes of Health Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. 

Recent evidence, however, suggests that the exact measurement may not be as important as whether a manís waist is expanding, shrinking, or staying the same over time. For this reason, guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association now recommend that men have their waist measured at least once a year and more often if they are overweight. 

This makes sense for men because they usually like to measure their progress. Thatís why they like to tell you the size of the fish that got away. So you can explain to your special man that if he measures his waist circumference on a regular basis, he can know if his health efforts are paying off.  And he can even keep the tape measure in his tackle box. 

May this be a healthful and happy Fatherís Day for all dads.



McClatchy Tribune Information Services