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Waist girth correlates to health risks

Are you fighting the battle of the bulge?! Proud of your beer belly? New research shows that your waist circumference or your waist to hip ratio (WHR) is a strong indicator of heart disease risk factors....

waistA round stomach or a 'beer belly' has often been a proud achievement of Australian males, the credit of which can often be put down to many hard hours in a bar drinking beer. But the great Aussie beer belly is really a sign of very poor health, and 'abdominal obesity' carries much greater risk than body fat stored in other areas.

We often use Body Mass Index (BMI) to classify whether a person's weight is healthy, overweight, or obese, and these classifications have been shown to correlate with heart disease and health risks. But a report in the February issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that one's waist circumference correlates more strongly with several known cardiovascular risk factors than does body mass index (BMI).

Based on data taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 1994, researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee (USA) found that waist circumference was more strongly tied to lipid profiles, blood pressure and glucose levels than BMI. So you dont need to do any calculations on height and weight, all you need to do is get out your measuring tape and see if you fall into the 'at risk' category!

Combining the data from the three ethnic groups, waist circumference cutoffs of 89cm and 101cm in men conferred a cardiovascular risk comparable to BMIs of 25 and 30. The corresponding cut-offs among women were 83 and 94 cm. This means that a waist circumference greater than 89cm in men palces you in a 'at risk' category, and greater than 101cm is 'high risk'. For women a measure greater than 83cm is 'at risk' and greater than 94cm is 'high risk'.

'The present study reports weight circumference cut-offs that correspond to well-established BMI cut-offs, recommended by the World Health Organisation and the National Institutes of Health for overweight and obesity, in their association with cardiovascular disease risk factors,' the authors conclude. 'Our findings indicate that waist circumference is a better indicator of cardiovascular disease risk than is BMI across 3 race-ethnicity groups.'

Also see our article on calculating your waist-hip ratio.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005;81:409-415

To find out more about waist to hip ratio, or living a long, healthy, and happy life contact us!


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