BMI Versus Waist to Height Ratio » Nursing Jobs Blog – Nurses Insights at Nursing Jobs.org

BMI Versus Waist to Height Ratio

December 15th, 2015  |  The Blog

Body Mass Index or BMI has been the standard measurement for obesity and, subsequently, for predicting a patient?s risk of heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and stroke.

Recently, a British study has found that there is a better and more reliable predictor for these cardiac issues. The study states that waist to height ratio is a better predictor and can actually extend a patient’s life expectancy.

The Difference in Measurement Tools

Let’s look at Body Mass Index versus the waist to height ratio.

A patient’s Body Mass Index measures obesity. It represents the ratio of a patient?s weight in kilograms to the square of their height in meters. The downside of the BMI measurement is that it does not factor in the fat distribution on the patient’s body, which is critical to maintaining healthy organs.

Abdominal fat is especially detrimental to the heart, kidneys and liver. Fat around the hips and buttocks is not as concerning to the overall health of a patient. Measuring a patient’s weight to height ratio is more accurate in predicting cardiovascular disease because it includes assessment of the fat distribution around the body, especially in the critically important abdominal area.

The Recommendation

The study leader is recommending that the new measurement, waist to height ratio (WHtR), should be used as a screening tool for all patients.

Using the WHtR is not a new idea but seems to be gaining popularity as further studies are supporting the theory.

The Best Case Scenario

The best waist to height ratio is to keep waist circumference to less than half of a person?s height. According to the study, this will increase the life expectancy for every person on Earth, whether male or female.

Examples of the perfect waist to height ratio include:

  • A male who is 6 feet to 72 inches tall should maintain their waist under 36 inches
  • A female who is 5 feet or 60 inches should maintain their waist under 30 inches

The best way to accurately measure the WHtR is to accurately measure the waist circumference. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), measure the waist circumference mid-way between the lower rib and the iliac crest or the top of the pelvic bone at the hip.

Looking Ahead and Health Goal Planning

Patient awareness of a waist to height ratio is far easier to understand and logically maintain than is the idea of calculating a Body Mass Index.

With obesity on the rise in the U.S., especially childhood obesity, it is important to have a simple measurement, which all patients can understand and comply with to keep the general population healthy for years to come.

Patients should discuss any diet and/or exercise plan with their physician before changing or increasing their routine to attain and maintain an acceptable and healthy waist to height ratio. It is all about the numbers, which in this case can increase life expectancy. Who’s in?

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