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Forget the BMI – these are the health tests you need to take today

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For decades, the Body Mass Index (BMI) has been the most widely used method of determining whether a person is at a healthy weight. Simply calculating weight divided by height can be helpful in getting a snapshot of a person’s health, but emerging research suggests it doesn’t give the complete picture.

“BMI is calculated based on a person’s height and weight and therefore does not take into account how much fat relative to the muscles they have or whether the fat in the body tends to be distributed around size, ”says Bridget Benelam of the Briton. Foundation for Nutrition.

Research suggests that a significant number of people classified as overweight by their BMI are healthy and vice versa. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and led by UCLA found that over 54 million people in the United States have been wrongly classified as “unhealthy” based on their BMI, when in reality they are “cardio-metabolically healthy” judging by by other markers, including cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. Conversely, about a quarter of people with a healthy BMI have poor cardiometabolic health. Focusing on BMI as the sole indicator of good health might also contribute to weight stigma.

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“While BMI is the gold standard for weight, it is a limited measure because it neglects key factors; age, gender and ethnicity can all have an impact on weight, ”says nutritionist Jenna Hope. “Plus, BMI doesn’t differentiate between fat mass and fat-free mass. Fat mass is a more important indicator of health than overall weight. “

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If BMI isn’t necessarily an accurate indicator of overall health, what tests should you turn to instead? Measuring waistline is just as important as stepping on the scale, according to a scientific statement published by the American Heart Association in the journal. Circulation.

A middle-aged beer belly or so-called spread could be a sign of visceral fatty tissue (VAT) – a dangerous type of abdominal fat that coils around internal organs. Abdominal obesity can put a person at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease even if they are not overweight or obese based on their BMI. NHS guidelines say a waist measurement of 94cm (37 inches) or more for men and 80cm (31.5 inches) or more for women increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes , cancer and stroke, regardless of overall body mass.

Research from Loughborough University has found that people who wear weight around their waist but have a normal BMI are at increased risk of death from any cause, compared to those who are obese but who have a normal BMI. carry their weight elsewhere.

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In addition to measuring waist circumference, there are tests that can be done easily at home that provide insight into your cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal strength, and overall good health. These are the health tests to try today.

Health tests to try at home

Waist size

Waist measurement is one way to assess whether a person is at risk for abdominal obesity. Measure your height with a tape measure. Find the point at the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips and take a measurement while exhaling naturally, without sucking in. According to NHS guidelines, you should try to lose weight if your height is over 94cm (37 inches) for men and 80cm (31.5 inches) for women, regardless of your BMI.

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Waist to hip ratio

Another way to gauge whether a person has the right amount of belly fat is the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Measure your hip circumference by standing straight with your legs together and measuring around the widest part of your hips while exhaling naturally. To calculate your WHR, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. According to the World Health Organization, a healthy WHR is 0.9 or less for men and 0.85 or less for women.

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Weight and size

Although it should not be used as the sole measure of health, BMI can be a useful indicator of whether a person is at increased risk for diseases associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer and stroke. According to NHS guidelines, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is healthy. To measure BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in square meters or use the NHS online BMI calculator.

Get up and sit down test

Passing the sit and rise test is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, according to data published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. The test is simple: go from standing to a sitting position on the floor, then back up again, without using hands, arms, or knees for support if possible. It only needs to be done once. In the original study of adults aged 51 to 80, those who failed this musculoskeletal strength test were almost seven times more likely to die within six years than those who could sit and sit. get up without help.

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