Alternative Measures to BMI

The fact that BMI uses your weight as its primary measuring tool means it is inaccurate. The density of your bone structure alone will throw off BMI calculations so a big-boned individual could wrongly be told that they are obese and at greater risk of medical conditions such as diabetes and stroke.

BMI is usually NOT used for bodybuilders, sprinters, long distance runners or anyone else classified as a professional athlete or sportsperson. That’s because these individuals tend to have a higher rate of muscle mass which skews the figures. In the case of endurance athletes, a lack of muscle mass can also produce misleading results.

 

Body Fat Percentage

A person’s body fat percentage is considered by some to be a better representation of their overall health than the BMI scale. It is simply a measurement of how much fat you’re carrying. Unlike the BMI scale, body fat percentage takes into account the differences between men and women.

 

ClassificationMale Body Fat PercentageFemale Body Fat Percentage
Essential Fat2-5%10-13%
Athletic6-13%14-20%
Fitness14-17%21-24%
Average18-24%25-31%
Obese25%+32%+

 

Waist to Hip Ratio

A person’s waist-to-hip ratio is an even better measure of health. Waist circumference is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes risk even after BMI is taken into account. Researchers discovered that a non-obese but overweight man (in BMI terms) with a waist size of 102 cm or more (40.2 inches) has at least the same risk of type 2 diabetes as an obese male. 

 

The same situation applies to females with a waist size of 88 cm or more (34.6 inches). Your waist-to-hip ratio is one of the best indicators of future disease risk because a higher ratio suggests that you have a high level of harmful visceral fat. This is the fat that accumulates around the internal organs and if you have too much of it, the result could be the release of hormones and proteins that lead to inflammation. This in turn damages arteries, enters your liver and impacts how the body breaks down fats and sugars.

 

ClassificationMale Waist-to-Hip RatioFemale Waist-to-Hip Ratio
Ideal0.80.7
Low Risk0.81 – 0.950.71 – 0.8
Moderate Risk0.96 – 0.990.81 – 0.84
High Risk1+0.85+

 

Therefore, a man with 40-inch hips should ideally have a 32-inch waist (32 / 40 = 0.8). A simpler version to judge your waist-to-height ratio is to keep your waist size to less than half of your height to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, a 6-foot tall man (72 inches) should have a maximum waist measurement of 36 inches. To Calculate your wait to hip ratio click here

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