Sunday, 9 June 2013

How Waist Height Ratio is Better Health Guide than BMI

Women come in all shapes and sizes. But whatever shape we are, there’s usually something we don’t like about it. Many women are predisposed to gaining weight on the thighs. And unfortunately, it’s one of the most stubborn areas of fat to get rid of.

If you’re a classic ‘Pear’ shape with larger hips and thighs in comparison to the rest of your body, there is some consolation.

Various research studies have found that women with smaller waists typically have a longer life span than those who store fat around their middle.

The latest study carried out by Dr Margaret Ashwell, a former government adviser, found that a 30-year old woman with the ‘perfect pear’ shape, could expect to live up to 9.5 years longer than a woman who is more of an apple shape (stores fat around their middle).

Men get an even worse deal. Those with a prominent beer belly are forecast to live 17 years less than a man with a flat stomach.

But how can you tell whether you’re an apple or pear?

A general guide is to ensure your waist circumference is never more than half your height.

Doctors generally use the BMI as a guide to how healthy your weight is for your height. But this doesn't distinguish between muscle and fat. Since muscles are heavier than fat, those with a muscular build could find they have an unhealthy BMI result.

Dr Ashwell analysed data from men and women spanning over 20 years and found that the waist to height ratio provides a better predictor of life expectancy than the BMI.

To find your waist to height ratio, simply divide your waist measurement by your height (using the same unit.)

For example, using inches, a woman with a waist of 28 inches and a height of 5ft 4 would do the following calculation:

28 / 64 (inches) = 0.4.

The ‘ideal’ ratio should be 0.4 to 0.5.

If you’re below 0.4 you may be too thin.

Between 0.51 and 0.6 you have an apple shape. Try to reduce your waist size as you may have too much fat stored here.

Above 0.61. Lose weight. You’re a larger apple and the amount of fat around your middle is likely to be detrimental to your health.

These findings were revealed at the European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool during May.

Waist to Height Chart (Ashwell Shape Chart) - Click here
This is like the BMI chart, but uses waist and height measurements instead of weight and height. It can be used as a guide for men, women and children over 5 years of age. You’ll need to know your measurements in cm to use this chart. Here’s a conversion calculator if you’re using inches.

Waist to Height Calculator - Click here
Turn the dial on the waist and height circles and your waist to height ratio will be displayed together with a health message about your result.

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