Waist-to-hip-ratio better predictor of overall health than BMI, says Experts; here’s how to calculate it
BMI only calculates overall weight and doesn’t take into account where fat is stored in the body. iStock
BMI or body mass index is still recognized by Government and NHS doctors as a method to calculate whether an individual is a healthy weight.
However, experts have now shunned this health calculating system and have called for it to be replaced with a more accurate measure, The Sun informs.
A new study has revealed that waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a stronger predictor of overall health in comparison to BMI.
The new research that was presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Sweden involved looking at the health records of over 25,000 people.
The risk of early death was found to be lowest among those with the lowest WHR and was found to steadily increase with higher WHR.
Meanwhile, BMI was found to be not such a good measure for early death.
Researchers also found that those with an extremely high BMI and extremely low BMI were more at risk of dying young.
Thus, they have called for health bodies to replace BMI with WHR as a simple measure of a healthy weight.
According to researchers from Ireland and Canada, WHR calculates how much fat someone is storing around their stomach.
Therefore, WHR better predicts the development of diseases and early death.
Whereas, BMI only calculates overall weight and doesn’t take into account where fat is stored in the body.
Excess belly fat puts you at greater risk for developing several kinds of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes as the fat in the belly surrounds your internal organs.
Irfan Khan, a medical student at the University College Cork, Ireland who carried out the research is reported to have said, “Someone who has accumulated fat around their waist will have the same BMI as someone of the same age and height who stores their fat around the hips, despite the health risks of abdominal fat.”
“As a result, BMI doesn’t reliably predict risk of disease or mortality,” he adds.
Khan is also quoted as saying, “Clinical recommendations and interventions should prioritize setting healthy WHR targets rather than general BMI targets.
“A more accurate measure of a healthy body shape may make a significant difference to the ill health and deaths caused by type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and numerous other conditions.”
Professor Nick Finer, a senior principal clinical scientist at UCL seems to have a slightly different opinion.
Speaking about WHR and its link with obesity he is reported to have said, “It has been long known that the waist-hip ratio is more closely associated with mortality than body mass index, and for this reason is included in guidelines for the assessment and management of overweight and obesity.
“However, there is a problem about relying on the waist-hip ratio as a measure of obesity severity, because it changes little with modest weight loss and so does not necessarily reflect health improvements as a result of obesity treatments that lead to weight loss.
He adds, “While mortality is, of course, important, for many people living with obesity it is everyday symptoms such as painful joints, breathlessness, mood changes, and being stigmatized that really impact on quality of life and may relate better to weight rather than fat distribution.”
To measure your WHR, you can divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
For example, if your waist is 32 inches and your average hip measurement is 40 inches, your WHR will be 0.8.
A ratio above 0.85 for women or 1.0 for men is a sign of obesity.