Waistline should be half your height

apple_measure_tape_1600_wht_13129There is now further evidence on this from research carried out by Cass Business School at the University of London. It claims to be the first study to analyse official health records to measure the impact on life expectancy on obesity as measured by the ratio between your waist and height.

This is clearly not true as I posted about this in May 2013 describing research at Oxford Brookes University which also looked at the Health & Lifestyle survey, which goes back to 1984, and the Health Survey for England which studies 8,000 people every year.

Leaving these academic institutions to fight it out the results from both studies have the same message: your waistline – as measured at the narrowest point without breathing in – should be half your height or less. So a person who is 5′ 10″ should have a waist of no more than 35″, and a person who is 5′ 4′  have  a waist of no more than 32″.

If a man expands his waistline to 60% of his height he loses 1.7 years of life and a woman doing the same 1.4 years.

Dr Margaret Ashwell, a co-author of the study, said the rule applied regardless of a person’s age or ethnicity. Dr Ashwell first popularised the discovery that apple-shaped obesity is more dangerous than pear-shaped obesity in 1996 (see post: “What fruit is your bum“) because of the amount of central fat in the body which affects vital organs causing heart problems and diabetes unlike fat on thighs and hips.

She said people who rely on their body-mass index (BMI) live on false hope. Using the waist;height ratio puts 69% of the population at risk compared to 56% if you use BMI.

But whether adopting this as the preferred measure will make any difference is anybody’s guess. GPs, who recently attacked childhood obesity welcomed the findings but thought it was unclear whether “worrying people about their weight actually motivates them to make a long-term commitment to lifestyle changes”.

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6 thoughts on “Waistline should be half your height

  1. […] aside the fact that the BMI has been discredited when used as a single measure of health and better methods have been discovered it perhaps reflects the fact that being overweight has become normalised in our […]

  2. […] course there are statistics and statistics! The number had been calculated using the much disputed body mass index (BMI)  and the obesity cut-off point of […]

  3. […] the study only three-quarters of the teenagers had a bmi within the normal weight range (NB bmi is not the best measure). 20% were overweight and 7% […]

  4. […] briskly for 30 minutes, five days a week, can lower your bmi by one unit more than average if you are male and by 1.8 units if you are female. And that’s […]

  5. […] height:waist ratio has been strongly recommended as an alternative to the bmi which doesn’t take into account […]

  6. mikethepsych says:

    Reblogged this on Mike the Psych's Blog.

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