Our hip-to-hip ratio is a stronger predictor of early death than body mass index (BMI) and should be considered a superior measure of a healthy weight, a new Ireland-led study suggests.
The study, presented yesterday at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) meeting in Stockholm, points out that BMI is often used to assess whether a person is at a healthy weight.
A BMI of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2 is considered to be in the right range.
“But BMI doesn’t take into account fat distribution,” said Irfan Khan, a medical student at University College Cork’s (UCC) College of Medicine and Health, who conducted the study with colleagues in Canada.
“It doesn’t take into account where fat is stored – whether it’s concentrated around the hips or the waist. As a result, BMI does not reliably predict disease or mortality risk.
“We wanted to find out whether waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) or fat mass index (FMI) would more reliably predict mortality across different fat distributions.
“The biggest limitation of BMI is that it doesn’t account for differences in fat distribution. This could mean that someone who has accumulated fat around the waist has the same BMI as someone of the same age and height who accumulates fat around the hips, despite the health risks of belly fat.
“However, WHR better reflects abdominal fat, including visceral fat, which wraps around organs deep in the body and increases the risk of a range of conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. With WHR, the message is simple: the lower the WHR, the lower your mortality risk.”
Analysis of data from UK Biobank participants who had genes known to increase the risk of weight gain/obesity – genetic obesity – suggested that higher fat levels do in fact cause increased mortality, and not only correlated with it.
They applied genetic measures of obesity – information about the genes associated with BMI, WHR and FMI – to data from 25,297 Caucasian men and women whose health was tracked to death in the UK Biobank study and 25,297 age, sex and genetic ancestry were -matched controls from the same study.
The average age of the participants was 61.6 years, 59.3 percent of whom were men.
This showed that the relationship between WHR and death from any cause increased linearly, meaning that the risk of early death was lowest for those with the lowest WHR and then steadily increased as WHR increased.
The association between WHR and all-cause mortality was stronger in men.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/the-hips-dont-lie-waist-to-pelvis-ratio-found-to-be-better-measure-of-healthy-weight-than-bmi-42007908.html Hips don’t lie: The waist-to-pelvis ratio is a better measure of a healthy weight than BMI