I read recently that we should no longer rely on body mass index (BMI) but look at waist to hip ratio (WHR) to discover more about our health. So, out came the tape measure and I quickly typed in my waist and hip measurements, pressed the button and bingo ….. but to my dismay I discovered that I was at high risk of a heart attack! A quick phone call to my friendly GP and a few more measurements and, thankfully, the pains all subsided.
BMI has been used for many years to determine a healthy weight. A person with a BMI greater than 25 is classed as overweight and more than 30 as obese. However, it does not always give an accurate figure. For instance an athlete who is very muscular may have a high BMI since muscle weighs more than fat.
A recent study suggests that WHR may be a better indicator of obesity. This method assesses fat distribution, unlike BMI. People who carry fat around the waist and upper abdomen (Apple shape) are at greater risk of heart attack than those who carry it on the thighs and buttocks (Pear shape). Apple shaped individuals have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes. In this latest research WHR is shown to be three times more valid a predictor of heart attack than using BMI. However, it is also recommended that BMI is not completely discarded.
Anyone who is overweight could improve their health by losing weight, however, if you are also apple shaped the health benefits will be even greater for you. Consider changing your lifestyle to improve your diet and increase your physical activity. Not only will this improve your health but also your life expectancy.