Body Mass Index versus Waist Circumference

by Bea | October 19th, 2010 | Nutrition

Did you know that your waist circumference (WC) can tell you a whole lot more about your body and any future risks than your body mass index (BMI) can?

Researchers have known about this for a while, but it has never really been expanded on. BMI used to be the number one predictor of morbidity and mortality due to chronic diseases such as stroke, cardiovascular disease, and type two diabetes. However, research that was done on over 14,000 people back in in the early 1990s showed that waist circumference has the ability to do this, and more. They found that abdominal obesity predicts obesity-related health risk very well and that even collecting all of the data (BMI and WC) did not seem to do any better in predicting the health risk in comparison to the WC data alone.

Meanwhile, back in the year 2010, a new study has been done that also showed that WC is better at predicting cardiovascular risk in children than the child’s BMI is. The study was published by researchers at the University of Georgia, the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart, Australia and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. Through their research they discovered a lot of relationships between BMI, WC, and disease. For example, they found that the children with the highest WC were about five to six times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome by early adulthood than the children with low WC. Granted, they did that the extreme children during this study (the top 25% of the WC values and the lowest 25% of the WC values), but a factor of five to six times is a pretty significant value!

The study used data collected as part of a 20-year follow up of 2,188 Australians who participated in a national childhood health and fitness survey in 1985, when aged 7 to 15 years.

The researchers from this study hope to start implementing WC measurements in schools, but this is a controversial topic. I do not think we would ever be able to implement that in American schools. However, I do believe that it will help children and their parents realize the risks at stake and how to prevent major diseases.

Comments on Body Mass Index versus Waist Circumference

All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.