Thursday, May 31, 2012

Better Than BMI

In an earlier post, “What’s Wrong With BMI” (8/06/2011), I talked about why BMI (body mass index) can be misleading, classifying unusually muscular people as obese and thin but unfit individuals as healthy.  I’ve just read about a new and simpler index that is said to be a more accurate predictor of future health problems than BMI.  

As WebMD reported, “Researchers reviewed 31 studies of more than 300,000 men and women. They found that waist-to-height ratio was more accurate than BMI and than waist circumference alone at predicting certain health risks associated with being overweight or obese, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.”  The goal is to keep your waist size less than 50% of your height, a ratio of less than .5.  With a ratio of .7 (six feet tall, 50 inch waist), a non-smoking 30-year-old man could decrease his life expectancy by as much as 14%; at .8 (six feet, 58 inch waist), by as much as one-third.  Let’s hope this easy and inexpensive tool will be widely used from now on.

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