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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Let’s Not Minimize the Seriousness of Obesity

Obesity is a major U.S. and world problem. Obesity raises the risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, some forms of cancer, and other illnesses. However, two often-held beliefs may undercut the drive to reduce obesity in the world. One of these beliefs is that body positivity should be embraced in the extreme and the other belief is that there are “metabolically healthy individuals.”

Body positivity “is a feminist movement that encourages people to adopt more forgiving and affirmative attitudes toward their bodies, with the goal of improving overall health and well-being.”
Body positivity empowers “women of non-Barbie proportions to feel good about themselves.…” And a lot of good has come out of the body positivity movement. Unhealthy diets are getting more scrutiny, for example.

However, some proponents of the movement are taking the body positivity idea to the extreme. For example, some proponents argue that it is okay to be fat. “The comedian, Sophie Hagan, recently accused Cancer Research of bullying fat people, after the charity launched a campaign to raise awareness about the link between cancer and obesity.” There is a link between cancer and obesity and a number of other diseases. And it is appropriate for healthcare professionals to alert the public.

Concerning the metabolically healthy obese individuals (MHOs), the belief that there are healthy obese persons does hold some water. In fact, an individual may be metabolically healthy for a while. The individual may be free of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or other obesity related diseases. But obese persons, not exhibiting any of these diseases, are still more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases than normal-weight individuals later in life.

The belief that body positivity can be a healthy endeavor is correct, but only when not taken to the extreme. Obesity, in general, is not healthy for the long term. This is similar to MHOs. MHOs can be healthy for a while, but probably not later in life because of the obesity. And healthcare professionals should make these points clear to their patients.

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