Is keeping tabs on tracking your waist size more important than tracking your BMI?

Research is indicating “yes”.

Many physicians calculate and use your body mass index (BMI) as a flag for obesity.

BMI is found by converting your weight to kilograms and dividing it by the square of your height in meters. An easier way to get this number is to put your height and weight into a calculator like this one from webmd.

The problem is BMI does not consider distribution of excess body fat nor account for muscle mass. Thus, a muscular athlete could be classified as obese. Tom Brady, at 6 feet, 4 inches and 225 pounds is considered “overweight” with a BMI of 27.3. Do you think he looks in the mirror and laments about losing weight? I don’t think so.

Experts argue it is more important to know how much visceral adipose tissue (VAT) – the fat stored around your abdomen – you have packed around your internal organs.

Fat marbling in a steak can be good thing. In you? Not so much. Fatty tissue around your waist is more biologically active than fat accumulating around your hips and increases your risk for diseases associated with obesity like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Thus, studies like this one, indicate waist to height ratio is a more accurate indicator in identifying obesity that BMI.  Current guidelines suggest adults keep their waist circumference to less than half of their height.

Measure Your Waist

Simply finding the distance around your waist is also a good indicator of the amount of fat held around your stomach.

People who are “apple-shaped” and store fat around their belly are more likely to develop weight-related diseases than people who are “pear-shaped” and store most of their fat around their hips.

For most people, the goal for a healthy waist is:
• Less than 40 in. (102 cm) for men.
• Less than 35 in. (88 cm) for women.

If you are Asian, the goal for a healthy waist is:
• Less than 36 in. (91 cm) for men.
• Less than 32 in. (81 cm) for women.

Which fruit are you?

How do I find my waist circumference?

To find your waist circumference, grab a soft tape measure and place it around your body at the top of your hipbones. This will usually be at the level of your belly button or just below.

How do I calculate my Waist to Height ratio?

To check your waist to height ratio, take your weight measurement and divide it by your height (in the same unit you used to measure your abdomen – so if you measure your abdomen in inches, your height should be in centimeters as well).

If the resulting number is more than 0.50, you should consider taking measures (no pun intended) to shrink your waist.

Good places to start include physical activity like high intensity interval training and/or strength training as well as watching your calorie intake. If you are not sure where to begin, seek out the help of a personal trainer, dietician or wellness coach for personalized advice.

If your health goal involves reducing your risk for metabolic or cardiovascular disease, consider putting less emphasis on what you weigh and rely more on using a tape measure to determine if you are reaching your goal.

Though the two may go hand in hand, it may be more important to wear a smaller pant size (truly, not just moving your waistband lower to sit below your belly) than to drop 10 pounds.

How will you feel with a smaller waist? Tell us below!

19 Replies to “Why You Should Watch Your Waist (for real)”

  1. thanks, very informative! So much emphasis has been placed on the BMI and not always easy for people to determine….measuring the waist is much better!

  2. Well it will make me so happy to know that I am getting healthier to possible live longer and be around for my family.

  3. I will feel a lot better about myself and my health. I feel that it would benefit me greatly overall in my general health.

  4. Great information on keeping body fat in check. Knowing how much visceral fat is on my body will help me stay motivated to get and keep in shape.

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