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Although the body mass index (BMI) is a commonly used method of determining general health, there are far better ways. Body mass index is based on a person's weight and height. The theory is that a person should weigh a certain amount at a certain height.
The results are inaccurate for people with a lot of muscle such as bodybuilders and weight lifters. The BMI inherently treats excess weight as the result of too much bodyfat. Excess weight for bodybuilders such as myself is not due to too much fat, but muscle tissue.
However, for the general population it gives an accurate picture of general health. The general population is overweight (66 percent in the United States), and very sedentary.
The waist to hip ratio is another method to determine bodyfat levels; one study found that this method is the most accurate in determining the risk of heart attacks. To get this ratio you simply measure your waist and divide that number by your hip measurement. A healthy waist-to-hip measurement for women should be 0.8 or less; for men the number should be 1.00 or less.
Numbers greater than these indicates too much abdominal ( visceral) fat. This places the individual at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. This person has an 'apple' type body. A person with a 'pear' shape body carries fat primarily around the hips.
New research is showing that a waist measurement is a better indication of general health than body weight alone. A person with an 'apple' body type carries fat primarily around the abdomen. Abdominal fat is located near vital organs. This can lead to increases in cholesterol and triglyceride levels which negatively impacts the health. Excess fat in the abdominal region has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The target waist size for men should be 35 inches or less and 32-1/2 inches or less for women. Waist size greater than these numbers leads to a corresponding increase in health risks.
Calculate your waist-to-hip ratio:
Healthy living > Body mass index