People should be encouraged to measure their waist circumference to make sure they don’t have too much fat in the area — and an adult’s waist should be less than half its height to reduce health risks, recommends the National Institute for Health Excellence. and Care UK (Nice).
Measuring body mass index (BMI) is also helpful, but does not take into account excess weight around the abdomen, which increases the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
A new guidance project from the British institute advises that people of color and some Asian ethnic groups are more prone to this type of accumulation of fat around the waist, which is called “central adiposity”.
They should use lower BMI limits for obesity to help predict their specific health risks.
But the institute warns that even those who are in a healthy BMI weight category may be carrying too much weight around their waist.
“Explain to people that to measure the waist, they should find the lower part of the ribs and the upper part of the hips, wrap a tape measure around the waist in the middle of these points, and breathe out naturally before taking the measurement,” say the women. guidelines on identifying overweight and obese people.
If you are 175 cm tall, for example, your waist measurement should be less than 87.5 cm (half your height).
Waist-to-height measurement can be used for both sexes and all ethnic groups, as well as for highly muscular adults, he adds. But waist circumference measurements are not accurate in people with a BMI over 35, pregnant women, or children under the age of two.
Waist-to-height ratio may indicate risk of cardiovascular disease
What other experts say
Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, said this new message could be “uncertain” but said it never hurts to try “new ways” to get people to think about their health.
Other experts say measuring the waist doesn’t work for very short or older people over 60, who may have lost height with aging.
But Professor Rachel Batterham, a consultant in obesity, diabetes and endocrinology, who is on the guideline committee, said: “Increased fat in the abdomen increases a person’s risk of developing a number of life-limiting diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. .
“The waist-to-height ratio is a simple, easy-to-use measure that identifies people who are most at risk for health and who would benefit from weight management support to improve their health.”
In the orientation, GPs and nurses are advised to ask someone’s permission before talking about their weight, and also to “discuss it sensitively.”
Advice on weight management is usually tailored to the individual and focuses on improving their diet and getting them to exercise more, in addition to possible treatments and surgery.
Paul Chrisp, director of Nice’s guidelines center, said the updated guidelines help people understand what factors affect their health and how to address them.
Healthcare professionals and the public can comment on the proposed recommendations in the guidelines before they are published in May.
The updated guidelines say that clinicians should also consider using the waist-to-height ratio in children and youth over age five to assess and predict health risks.
Nivedita Aswani, a consultant pediatrician specializing in diabetes and weight management at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said even young children are at risk for the effects of abdominal fat.
What is a healthy body mass index (BMI)?
- healthy weight: BMI 18.5 kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2
- overweight: BMI 25 kg/m2 to 29.9 kg/m2
- obesity class 1: BMI 30 kg/m2 to 34.9 kg/m2
- obesity class 2: BMI 35 kg/m2 to 39.9 kg/m2
- Class 3 obesity: BMI 40 kg/m2 or more