Alternatives to Body Mass Index
The BMI calculation is a very useful means of determining someone’s weight and whether their health is at risk. However, there are other forms of measurement which are considered to be far more accurate.
These include waist circumference and waist-hip ratio.
Waist circumference is a type of measurement which calculates your health risks against the size of your waist. There are pre-defined limits for men and women which are:
- Men: waist at 37 inches (94 cm)
- Women: waist at 32 inches (80 cm)
If your waist is larger than either of these measurements then you are at greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and strokes. This is more of a problem if you are ‘apple shaped’ rather than ‘pear shaped’. Someone who is apple shaped will carry excess fat around their abdomen whereas someone who is pear shaped has excess fat around the hips and thighs.
Men are classed as ‘apple shaped’ in that they store excess fat around their midriffs whereas women tend to be seen as ‘pear shaped’ due to their fat deposits around the hips, thighs and buttocks.
How to measure your waist circumference
Take a tape measure and place this around the narrowest part of your waist - just underneath your navel, breathe out and note the measurement.
If you are a woman and your waist is 32 inches or less then you are a healthy weight.
If you are a man and your waist is 37 inches or less then you are a healthy weight.
If your waist is more than 35 inches (women) or 40 inches (men) then you are at greatest risk of disease and illness.
This is a useful measurement for athletes, bodybuilders and sportspeople who tend to have low levels of body fat.
However, the waist-hip ratio is considered to be even more accurate. It requires you to measure both your hips and waist and divide one figure by the other to get your ratio.
How to measure your waist and hips
Start by measuring your waist at their narrowest point, followed by a measurement of your hips at their widest point. Don’t pull the tape too tightly; allow it to rest lightly against your skin.
Then divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement.
For example, if your waist is 31 inches and your hips are 37 inches then your waist-hip ratio is 1.19.
If your ratio is more than 0.85 (women) or 1.0 (men) then you are classed as apple shaped.
Body Mass Index Guide Index:
- Other factors with Body Mass Index
- Alternatives to Body Mass Index
- Is Body Mass Index still important?