Measuring Belly Fat: Body Mass Index vs. Hip to Waist Ratio
The hip-to-waist ratio has become a more effective way to measure belly fat than the tradition Body Mass Index, used for years.
Researchers have discovered that stomach fat can be much more dangerous than other types of body fat and can cause a whole host of nasty health problems, including: cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
It is imperative to your well being that you understand how to assess your own belly fat and determine if you are at risk.
BMI (Body Mass Index)
Traditionally, health experts have recommended using a BMI (Body Mass Index) measurement to determine if an individual is within a healthy weight range.
A BMI scale is that it is simple to understand and even easier to use. To figure out your BMI score, simply divide your weight by your height. Use a BMI chart to find your number and determine the weight category in which you belong.
Doubts About BMI Score
Recently, researchers have raised doubts about the usefulness of the BMI scale.
The scale fails to take into account different body types that fall outside population norms, such as professional athletes, who may have a higher-than-average weight due to muscle mass — not body fat.
More importantly, researchers are gaining a more nuanced view of body fat, specifically, that an accurate measurement of belly fat is far more relevant to disease risk then measuring total body fat.
A Better Method: Find Your Hip to Waist Ratio
The BMI measurement does not distinguish between the more potent and dangerous belly fat and less harmful types of body fat. So, researchers are now promoting a different measurement: the hip-to-waist ratio.
This ratio is easy to calculate and can yield much more accurate results than a BMI measurement.
How to Calculate Your Ratio:
Calculating this ratio doesn’t require any fancy equipment or an advanced math degree, only a tape measure and some simple division. You will take two measurements using the tape measure.
- Measure the circumference of your waist.
This is the most narrow part of your midsection, usually just above the belly button. Make sure not to suck in your stomach or squeeze the tape measure. It should lay flat against the skin with no indent.
- Measure the circumference of your hips.
Your hips are the widest part of your body, where your rear protrudes the most. Once you have both measurements, just add a dash of math to the mix – divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement - and you will have your waist-to-hip ratio.
For women, if your reading is above 0.85, then your visceral belly fat puts you at risk for weight-related disease including colon and breast cancer. Men need to strive for a number below .90. Anything higher, and your health is on the line.
A high disparity between waist and hip measurements is one of the most important indicators of a high level of belly fat.
If your ratio puts you in an at-risk category, don’t despair. The hip-to-waist ratio is simply a tool to help you understand your current risk.
Learning your ratio can be the wakeup call you need to change your life! Just like any other type of fat, you can lose belly fat by pursuing healthy habits, good nutrition and a moderate exercise plan.