I admit it; I perseverate about body weight but then, I used to be morbidly obese. Accordingly, Eric sent me Measuring tape trumps a scale. The article is based on the study published in today’s issue of The Lancet (paid subscription required). Apparently, Dr. Salim Yusuf, director of cardiology at McMaster University has found that BMI or Body Mass Index is a poor indicator of obesity.
Waist-to-hip ratio, not body mass index (BMI), is the best obesity measure for assessing a person’s risk of heart attack, conclude authors of a study published this week. If obesity is redefined using waist-to-hip ratio instead of BMI, the proportion of people at risk of heart attack increases threefold. Heart-attack patients had a strikingly higher waist-to-hip ratio than people in a control group, irrespective of other cardiovascular risk factors.
According to the article, you’d calculate your waist-to-hip ratio by measuring the fullest part of your hip, the narrowest portion of your waist and then divide your waist measure by your hip measurement. The lower the number, the better.
While Dr. Yusuf says BMI leads to undercalculation of risk, a related article One Number Doesn’t Fit All states:
Other research has found that BMI often overestimates risk. African Americans and others of African descent as well as Polynesians generally have less body fat and more lean muscle mass than do people of European descent. For this reason, some scientists believe that for these groups a BMI of 26 should be the threshold for overweight and 32 for obesity.
Perhaps WHR will be better but my testing results were mixed. Dividing my 26″ waist by my 36″ hip (yeah, I’ve gained 10 lbs for winter, I was too cold last year) that gives me .72 WHR. While that number is good, if I compare my usual waist/hip (25/34), that gives me a .74 and I’d hardly think I’m at greater risk of heart attack when weighing my usual 106 lbs, especially when my BMI calculation puts me in the underweight category (17.6). You be the judge; drag out your measuring tape and you can find a BMI calculator here.