BMI, the current standard for determining if you are at a healthy weight, may be on its way out.
According to researchers, a more accurate way to measure whether you are at risk for obesity-related diseases is your waist-to-height ratio.
Your BMI, which stands for body mass index, calculates a number based on your height and weight that shows if you are a normal weight, overweight, obese or underweight. However, it doesn’t take muscle mass or the distribution of fat around the body into consideration.
A review of 31 studies that included more than 300,000 men and women found that waist-to-height ratio was better than BMI at predicting certain health risks associated with obesity, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
“Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world,” according to study leader Dr. Margaret Ashwell.
Dr. Ashwell calls the waist-to-height ratio a “one-size-fits-all approach,” and says it should replace BMI and waist circumference alone as a way to assess body fat and health risks.
Waist-to-height ratio is easy to determine—all you need is a tape measure. Measure your waist at belly-button level, and then measure your height if you don’t know it. Divide your waist measurement by your height to get your percentage.
Another advantage of waist-to-height ratio is its simplicity: keep your waist circumference to less than half your height. BMI is harder to calculate, and you have to remember or look up whether your BMI number falls into a healthy range.
Liposuction is also popular for removing stubborn areas of fat that don’t go away with diet or exercise. Patients should already be at a healthy weight for this procedure, as it is not meant for weight loss.
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