For those concerned about or currently watching their weight, it’s easy to think that the end-all of success lies with the numbers you see on the bathroom scale. While those numbers are definitely important, there are many other factors to consider when determining health and risk factors associated with excessive weight.
One extremely important and often overlooked factor is an individual’s waist to hip ratio. Fat distribution in the body has been linked by studies to a variety of adverse medical conditions. It is believed that fat stored in the waist may be more dangerous than fat stored in other places throughout the body.
For this reason, many physicians recommend a simple waist to hip ratio measurement for those who are overweight or obese. The results of this easy at-home test could demonstrate if an individual is at risk for dangerous conditions such as coronary heart disease. Often associated with obesity, coronary heart disease is a narrowing of the arteries in the body which makes the transfer of blood and oxygen to the heart extremely difficult.
It’s not necessary to visit a doctor in order to have this measurement completed. It can be done in the comfort of your own home and all you need is a flexible tape measure. Use the tape measure to calculate the circumference of the waist and hips individually. The waist measurement should be taken at the narrowest point of the waist. Alternately, the hip measurement should be taken at the widest point on the body. It is advised that these measurements be taken over thin clothing in order to provide the most accurate and helpful results.
The total waist to hip ratio is the result of the waist measurement divided by the hip measurement. You are free to use any unit of measurement as long as it is exactly the same for both the hip and waist measurement. Waist to hip ratio is evaluated on a scale of excellent to extreme, with excellent being acceptable and extreme being unhealthy and unacceptable. Target numbers for waist to hip ratio vary for men and women.
For men, any number totaling less than .85 is considered excellent. A score of .85-.90 is good, .90-.95 is average while 095-1.0 is high and anything greater than 1.0 is extreme. For women, anything less than .75 is excellent, .75-8.0 is good and .80-.85 is considered average. A score of .85-.90 is high and any result greater than .90 is considered extreme.
Individuals with waist to hip ratios that fall within the range of high to extreme are at a greater risk for developing coronary heart disease and should consult with their physicians on steps and treatments that can be incorporated into daily routines.
The next time you step on the scale, remember to take your tape measure with you. Tracking weight loss alongside fat distribution between the waist and the rest of your body, is one way to monitor very specific health risks and hopefully prevent coronary heart disease in its tracks.