By: Marleen van Balkom On: May 09, 2016 In: Health, Nutrition, Research Comments: 0

For years, the Body-Mass Index (BMI) was the holy grail when it came to categorising a person’s health status with one parameter.

It is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by squared height in meters, e.g. 60 kg/(1.72 m)2 = 20,3. Based singularly on a patient’s weight and height, it does not take into account any other relevant health information.

This leads to people mistakenly being classified as “unhealthy” and overweight as soon as their BMI equals 25 or more: Athletes for example, who have a high percentage of muscle mass, commonly have BMIs higher than 25 even though they are certainly not unhealthy. Intriguingly, even people who are classified “healthy” by their BMI, might not be: You can have the perfect BMI (20-25) but still be malnourished based on what you eat.

Due to this discrepancy, scientists and doctors are now arguing against the use of the BMI as a health indicator. Instead, they say, the amount of belly fat is far more meaningful for a person’s health status. Therefore, the Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR) is increasingly used as a parameter when assessing a patient’s health status. The WHR is calculated by dividing waist by hip circumference, e.g. 63 cm/90 cm = 0.7.

Another measurement of general health that is based on the distribution of fat throughout the body is the estimation of body types: People with belly fat are “apples” and have the highest risk to develop weight-associated disease (WHR > 0.85), while people with accumulating fat on the hips are “pears” and are thought to have reduced risk (WHR < 0.80). “Avocados” represent people with a rather straight body type and fat accumulating mostly on the hips but also tummy; they have an intermediate risk. People with an “hourglass” or “ruler” shape generally do not accumulate fat around the belly and thus have low risk of developing such widespread diseases.

Are you a “lucky pear” or rather an “apple pie”?

Using body shape or WHR as a better measure for overall health was recently encouraged by a team of scientists from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City and John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore that presented their work at a Cardiology Conference last month. They found that abdominal fat rather than hip-associated fat is a good predictor for diabetes type-1 patients to develop heart disease.

A low waist-hip ratio is also linked to fertility. Women with a low ratio tend to start ovulating younger, and those with a high ratio find it more difficult to become pregnant and tend to have children later.

For all these reasons Kenkodo uses the WHR in addition to weight and height – because we feel this gives us the best idea of where you stand in your health journey!

Health aside – that’s not only why the waist ratio is so important. According to a new theory, a woman’s sex appeal is majorly determined by her Waist-Hip Ratio. The smaller the waist in relation to the hip, the more desirable a woman is seen to be. Professor Devendra Singh at the University of Texas believes that this may be the most powerful sexual trigger of all.

So here are a few very good reasons to take a closer look at your Waist-Hip Ratio!

Figure on top: Body types in women, from left to right: apple, pear, hourglass ruler and avocado.

Further Reading

Body Shape Could Beat BMI as Heart Disease Predictor

Goodbye to the BMI

WHO Report 2008

Know Your Body Type

Health: What a man can’t resist: the perfect waist-hip ratio