The NHS watchdog says people should make sure their waist measurement is less than half their height to avoid health problems.

For the first time, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says adults with a body mass index (BMI) under 35 should measure their own waist-to-height ratio as part of their broader plan to tackle obesity.

A BMI between 18 and 25 is considered a healthy weight, between 25 and 30 is overweight, and over 30 is obese.

Nice says that by using the waist-to-height ratio, along with BMI, people can see if they’re carrying excess fat around their midsection, which is seen as a cause of obesity. risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. .

Anyone who wants to find out their waist-to-height ratio can use an online calculator or can have a medical professional calculate it for them.

For example, a 5ft 4in woman with a waist circumference of 29in would have a healthy ratio, but 32in would push them into the unhealthy range.

A 5ft 10in tall man has a higher health risk with a waist circumference of 36 inches.

Guidelines say a healthy waist-to-height ratio is 0.4 to 0.49, indicating no increased health risk.

A ratio of 0.5 to 0.59 puts people at high risk for health problems, while 0.6 or higher puts them at highest risk for health problems.

This guideline recommends, consistent with international guidelines, the use of lower BMI thresholds for overweight and obesity for people of South Asian, Chinese, Other Asian, Middle Eastern, Black African or Africa-Caribbean.

These groups are more likely to carry a moderate weight and have a higher health risk with a lower BMI.

It also outlines ways to assess childhood obesity and says appropriate plans should be considered for children with a high BMI or waist-to-height ratio above 0.5.

Dr Paul Chrisp of Nice said: “Our updated draft guidelines provide people with a simple and effective way to measure their weight so they can understand the factors that can affect their health. and take action to address them.

“Our committee found that a clear benefit of using the waist-to-height ratio was that people could more easily measure themselves, interpret results, and seek medical advice if they were at risk. health increases”.

Guidelines committee member Professor Rachel Batterham, consultant in obesity, diabetes and endocrinology, said: ‘Increased belly fat increases the risk of a number of life-limiting diseases. of a person including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“The waist-to-height ratio is a simple, easy-to-use metric to identify people who are at increased risk for health and would benefit from supporting weight management to improve their health. surname.”

Draft guidelines can be consulted.

The 2019 UK Health Survey estimated 28% of adults were obese and 36% overweight.

The current cost of obesity in the UK is £6.1 billion for the NHS and £27 billion for society as a whole.


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