Waist to height ratio could determine how healthy you are, says NHS watchdog

An NHS watchdog has advised people to measure their waist in relation to height to monitor their health and keep problems at bay.

For the first time, NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) have issued guidelines for those with a BMI of 35 or under to check their waist to height ratio, in an effort to tackle obesity and associated illnesses.

Where BMI measures a person’s weight in relation to their height, assessing waist measurement shows whether a person is carrying fat around their middle, something associated with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Dr Paul Chrisp, the director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said: ‘Our committee found that a clear benefit of using the waist-to-height ratio is that people can easily measure it themselves, interpret the results, and seek medical advice if they are at increased health risk.’

A BMI of 18 to 25 is considered a healthy weight, 25 to 30 is overweight, and over 30 is obese, while 40 or above means you’re ‘severely obese’.

Ideally, people should ensure their waist circumference is less than half of their height, as anything higher can put you at risk of complications.

A healthy waist to height ratio is between 0.4 to 0.49, while 0.5 to 0.59 increases probability of health issues. A ratio of 0.6 or more is the category with the highest risk factor.

For example, a 5ft 4in woman with a 29in waist would fall into the healthy range, but would be considered more susceptible to serious illness if her waist was 32in. A 5ft 10in man would be in the at-risk category if his waist was 36in or above.

NICE says looking at both BMI and waist to height together can provide a clearer picture of a person’s overall wellbeing – and thankfully it’s as easy as getting out your tape measure.

Find the spot underneath your ribs and the highest part of your hips, measuring the middle point between them. Breathe out naturally while you do this to avoid skewed results.

From there, check your height as you would normally and input the figures into an online calculator like this one.

You can also ask a health professional to take your measurements and assess your ratio, which has the added benefit of allowing you to get expert tips to stay in tip-top shape.

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