Keeping waistline less than half your height key to good health

Want to maintain good health and keep diseases at bay? Cutting your waistline to less than half of your height could be key instead of just measuring body mass index (BMI), according to UK health experts.

The high build-up of fat around the waist, called “central adiposity”, is a major cause for increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Measuring waist-to-height ratio instead of just BMI can be more useful as BMI does not take into account excess weight around the abdomen. They are also not accurate in people with a BMI over 35, pregnant women or children under two, BBC reported.

For example, if you’re 5ft 9 inches tall, then your waist measurement should be less than 87.5cm (34 inches) – or half your height, according to new draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The guidance stated that Asians and some ethnic groups are more prone to central adiposity.

The recommendation suggests these people make use of lower BMI thresholds for obesity to help predict their specific health risks.

“Explain to people that to measure their waist, they should find the bottom of their ribs and the top of their hips, wrap a tape measure around the waist midway between these points and breathe out naturally before taking the measurement,” said NICE the guidelines.

While some experts feel trying “new ways” to get people to think about their health is not harmful, others said that measuring the waistline doesn’t work for people who are very short or older people over 60 who may have lost height with ageing.

But Professor Rachel Batterham, consultant in obesity, diabetes and endocrinology, diagrees, the report said.

“Waist-to-height ratio is a simple, easy-to-use measure that identifies people who are at increased health risk and would benefit from weight management support to improve their health,” Batterham was quoted as saying.

“Increased fat in the abdomen increases a person’s risk of developing several life-limiting diseases including type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” she added.

The updated guidelines noted that doctors should also consider using waist-to-height ratio in children and young people aged over five to assess and predict health risks.

Healthcare professionals and the public can comment on the proposed recommendations in the guidelines before they are published in May, the report said.

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