Still using complicated BMI calculations? You may need to find the old fashioned measuring tape again. If you want to know if you are so fat that it’s dangerous for your health, the best way to find out is to place a tape measure around the waist and simply measure it.
A study by Danish Institute for Health Services Research (DSI) has recently concluded, that the number of centimeters a person measures around their waist is a better indication of the amount of weight they need to drop (or not), than the more complex method in which BMI numbers are calculated.
Measurements in centimeters simply works best because it’s much easier to reveal the dangerous fat around the abdomen. For example, women have an increased risk of becoming sick if they have a waistline of over 80 cm, where men are at risk when their waistline is over 94 cm, and according to this study - height plays no role.
The researchers behind this study used 31.000 Danes for for their research and looked first at how BMI and waistlines are in accordance with the funds the health service spends each year on keeping people healthy. Obesity is known to cause diseases such as cardiovascular problems, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Researchers from DSI via this research can see that health care costs rise in proportion to which category people are in i.e. normal waistline, increased waistline or much greater waistline.
The study shows that BMI and waistline measurements gives a good picture of whether people are at risk of becoming sick or not. But for every sixth Dane the waistline measurement gives a more accurate picture than BMI does.
The tape measure method may for example reveal, that some people with a BMI calculation that reads as being of normal weight, in reality are overweight.
“People who have the apple form, where all the fat is situated on the stomach, can have a normal BMI, even if they are at risk. However, if they are at risk, this will be caught out by waistline measurement method. This point is interesting, because more people will be alerted that they have harmful fat” says DSI Project Manager Betina Højgaard.
The calculation also works the other way around too: People who are overweight according to their BMI calculation, may actually be of normal weight, according to waistline measurements.
A slightly off BMI calculation can happen if the person has a lot of muscles, large bones or a great deal of water in their body, which BMI does not take into account.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most widely used method, of finding out whether you weigh too little, too much or you’re just right and is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in centimeters times itself (kg / cm x cm)
If your BMI is below 18.5 you are underweight. With a BMI of 18,5-24,9: you have the appropriate weight. With a BMI 25-29,9: you are overweight and lastly with a BMI 30 or more: you are very overweight.
According to DSI, every sixth person will possibly be indexed incorrectly using the BMI method. Using the tape measure gives a much better indication of whether a person is in the danger zone according to this study.