Explained: Why does the UK want adult citizens to measure their waists?
- A health body in the UK has advised adults to measure their waist
- The guideline aims to help people determine if they are prone to several health risks that come with belly fat
- Preferably, an adult’s waist should measure up to half their height
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), a UK-based public health body has revised its draft guidelines and has now advised adults to keep an eye on their waist sizes so that they do not become prone to several health risks and diseases.
What are the guidelines?
The guidelines by the NICE mainly stress that adults should measure their weight to height ratio. Preferably, an adult’s waist should measure up to half their height in order to not be at risk of health issues.
Furthermore, the guidelines add that some research reveals that people of Black, Asian or minority ethnicities are more vulnerable to gaining weight, especially belly fat, and have a high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases even if their body mass index (BMI) threshold is low. The health body also adds that children with excess fat in the abdomen are also prone to developing some diseases.
Why were these guidelines introduced?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a moderate BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9 and a high range is 25 or more.
While BMI accurately calculates which weight category a person falls into by using their height and weight, it fails to evaluate their overall health.
This happens because BMI does not measure the amount of fat and muscle in the body. So, although BMI can assess if a person is overweight, it cannot determine if they have too much fat or muscle in the body.
For example, the NHS website states that BMI often labels athletes and adults as “obese” or “overweight”, even if they carry less body fat.
Due to this misleading assessment, a person labeled as healthy can carry excess fat in the abdomen or waist, which directly boosts their risk of developing cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Hence, the NICE guidelines advise that a person should measure their waist to height ratio to accurately determine their health status.