Waist-Hip and Waist-to-Height Ratios
Are Significant Health Indicators
Checking a person's waist-hip and waist-to-height ratio is a
more significant indicator of health than the standard Body Mass
Biomarkers such as waist-hip
ratios are linked to cardiovascular function, systolic and diastolic
blood pressure, HDL and total cholesterol as well as well-being.
is not a reliable biomarker for any of these health indicators
since is cannot decipher between fat and muscle.
Canadian researchers studied more than 27,000 people in 52 countries
and concluded that using waist-to-hip ratio instead of BMI to
measure obesity increases by three-fold the number of people considered
to have a risk of heart attack.
Almost nine in 10 people are not aware of the risks of carrying
extra fat around their waistline. A survey of 12,000 Europeans
found most had no idea that a thick waist was a sign of a build-up
of a dangerous type of fat around the internal organs.
Report author Dr Terry Maguire, honorary senior lecturer at Queen's
University in Belfast, said people did not know that visceral
fat, which you cannot see or feel and which sits around the organs
in the abdomen, is there or that it poses a problem.
It is thought that the danger of visceral fat is related to the
release of proteins and hormones that can cause inflammation,
which in turn can damage arteries and enter the liver, and affect
how the body breaks down sugars and fats.
Only a quarter of those questioned in the Europe-wide study thought
being overweight was a risk to long-term health at all.
"Most overweight people still see themselves as having a
body image issue not a health problem and they need to understand
the health benefits of weight loss as well as the cosmetic results,"
Research has shown that waist circumference is a good indicator
of visceral fat and therefore of a person's risk of diseases associated
with being overweight, such as type 2 diabetes.
The report pointed out that when weight is lost visceral fat
is more easily broken down for energy than the fat immediately
under the skin and even a small amount of weight loss can cause
When asked about losing weight, two-thirds of respondents said
they would go on a diet in the New Year.
But the report's co-author Professor David Haslam, chair of the
UK National Obesity Forum, cautioned that steady sustainable weight
loss is important and that crash diets were likely to be unsuccessful.
"They can actually do more harm than good," he said.
"Invariably weight is put back on, with some of the weight
regained accumulating as visceral fat."
Professor Steve Field, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said
most of the focus in recent years had been on weight.
"It is the weight around your belly which really does the
"A lot of these things take a while to get into people's
heads especially as there has been so much focus on weight and
body mass index.
"I'm not surprised at the findings because it will take
more than a few academic papers to really change people's minds."
January 5, 2010