Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Waist Related Measurements Can Be Useful in Healthcare

Body mass index or BMI is probably the most frequently employed measurement of excess, possibly harmful, body fat. A BMI greater than or equal to 30 is considered to be an indication of obesity. However, other measurements of excess harmful body fat have been put forward. These measurements include waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio. The measurements focusing on waist may provide more useful health information than BMI alone, in many ways, since belly fat can cause many problems, including heart problems.

A study consisting of 1700 subjects done by researchers at the Mayo Clinic indicated that “those with a normal BMI, but high levels of belly fat were about twice as likely to have a heart attack, procedures to open blocked arteries, or to die from heart problems during the follow up than people without belly fat."

An acceptable waist circumference is equal to or less than 35 inches for women and equal to or less than 40 inches for men. Acceptable waist-to-height ratios are generally less than .6. In fact, in one study the "Cut-points for predicting whole body obesity were 0.53 in men and 0.54 in women. The cut-point for predicting abdominal obesity was 0.59 in both sexes."

Healthcare providers need to take waist related measurements, and use the measurements for diagnoses and counseling sessions. If a patient has too much belly fat, the provider should encourage the patient to follow a diet and engage in physical activity that can lead to weight loss.

BMI is a good all-around measurement of overweight and obesity. The measurement is widely used, so comparison studies can be readily performed. But waist related measurements should also be taken so that a more complete assessment of excess, harmful body fat can be made.

Both healthcare providers and patients should recognize the importance of waist related measurements. Healthcare providers should make taking waist related measurements a part of their normal intake process. These measurements are relatively easy to perform. Providers should use every tool available to fight overweight and obesity.

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