Too Many Inches Is Bad
July 22, 2013

Too Many Inches Is Bad

Recently, The Telegraph reported about a more accurate measurement of health, the waist to height ratio. For a long time, Body Mass Index (BMI) was the primary tool used to determine healthy weight and health, but researchers from Oxford Brookes University completed a study that recognized that the waist to height ratio provides a clearer prediction of one’s life expectancy.

So, let’s start with the BMI. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the BMI is calculated “by dividing weight in pounds (lbs) by height in inches (in) squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703.”

Example: Weight = 150 lbs, Height = 5’5″ (65″)

Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)2] x 703 = 24.96

Thus the formula would be weight (lb) ÷ [height (in)] 2 x 703

This is used to determine whether a person is underweight, healthy, overweight, or obese. For a good BMI calculator, check out the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, or WebMD, which also calculates more like the waist to height ratio.

According to the Telegraph article, though BMI is important, a better indicator is the waist to height ratio. Here is how the study worked:

“Researchers from Oxford Brookes University examined data on patients whose BMI and waist to height ratio were measured in the 1980s.

Twenty years later, death rates among the group were much more closely linked to participants’ earlier waist-to-height ratio than their BMI, suggesting it is a more useful tool for identifying health risks at an early stage.

By comparing the life expectancies of various groups of people at different waist-to-height ratios, they were able to calculate how many years of life were lost as people’s waistlines increased.”

So, a 50-year-old woman with a waist to height ratio of 0.8 would lose 8.2 years of life and a man of 60 with the same ratio would lose 16.7 years. In both cases, that is way too much life lost.

The reason that researchers believe that waist to height ratio is more accurate is because it considers the central fat of a person. Central fat is that which also accumulates on the organs and is closely linked to heart diseases like stroke and heart attack. BMI does not take that into consideration, only weight and height.

Both of these tools can be used to help us lead healthier, longer lives. If we consider our waist to height ratio, then we can control our central fat. If we know our BMI, then we can make sure that we fall into the healthy category. Each and every tool we use to stay healthy is another tool that will keep us alive. It is good that scientists and researchers are discovering more accurate ways of predicting and indicating health. If waist to height ratio is better, then let’s use it more. I chose to use it as well as BMI. Maybe that is overkill, but I would rather have the knowledge than not. My health and my life depend on my knowledge.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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