How to measure obesity: You waist size matters, not your BMI

Experts say BMI is an incorrect way to measure obesity.

So, how should doctors measure obesity? Researchers from the University of Alberta say body mass index (BMI) is important. It tells your doc how healthy you are, but it can lead him to prescribing the wrong medicine for you.

Using their weight and height, BMI measures a person’s body size. Typically, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Anything under 18.5 is considered underweight. BMIs between 25 and 29.9 fall into overweight territory; obesity is anything above 30.

“It is useful for tracking population trends in body weight, but has well-known limitations when applied to individuals,” Dr. Arya Sharma says. Dr. Sharma is an obesity researcher at the University of Alberta in Canada.

She told Live Science. For example, many professional athletes qualify as overweight or obese based only on their BMI. But they have much more muscle mass, which weighs proportionally more than fat. “While someone with a BMI of above 30 is considered obese by the metric, they may actually be perfectly healthy, metabolically speaking,” according to Dr Sharma. Their blood pressure is normal; their livers are functioning well and their cholesterol levels are within normal limits. On the other hand, some people with BMIs below 30 have health problems; that could improve, if they were to lose weight.(Mailonline)

The size of your waist is a much more accurate marker of health than your weight, experts have found.

Researchers, from the University of Wolverhampton in the UK, say the metric of BMI measurement is misleading; this is because it cannot distinguish between fat and muscle; the latter is far heavier.

The team devised a new measurement of waist-to-height ratio; it is a far more accurate predictor of heart disease risk in both men and women.

The system is calculated by dividing the waist size by the square root of someone’s height. It was found in a trial of 4,700 people to be the best marker of cardio-metabolic health.

Professor Alan Nevill, who led the study, said:

“So, for someone of 5’2′, a 36′ waist is harmful; whereas for someone of 6’1′, the danger point would be a 39′ waist.”

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