Don’t like BMI as a measure of health? You aren’t alone. It’s dated, nonsensical, and wasn’t even designed to measure an individual’s personal health—it was designed for measuring the level of obesity in entire populations.
Anyway, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found a better measure of poor health: waist size. And yes, that sound you just heard was our entire readership slapping their foreheads in exasperation.
In a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a team led by Dr James Cerhan found that men with waist sizes forty-three inches or greater had a fifty per cent higher mortality rate than men with waists less than thirty-five inches. This translated into a three year lower life expectancy after the age of forty.
“BMI is not a perfect measure,” says Dr. Cerhan. “It doesn’t discriminate lean mass from fat mass, and it also doesn’t say anything about where your weight is located. We worry about that because extra fat in your belly has a metabolic profile that is associated with diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.”
So, if you want a simple health measure, ditch BMI and look at your pants. Need a more complicated one? Visit your doctor.