Predict Your Health With This Measurement
I bet you’ve heard of BMI (body mass index) and WC (waist circumference) but have you heard of HtWR (height to waist ratio)? The abbreviation should roll off your tongue as easily as BMI. Height to waist ratio is THE best marker to predict your future health. According to multiple studies in the U.S., Britain, and China, it beat both BMI and waist circumference in predicting future mortality due to metabolic risks such as hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol problems.
Waist to height ratio is specific and personal. It relates to how round you are through your mid-section compared to how tall you are. Let me explain how to perform the test on yourself and then I will talk about what the results mean.
Take a soft tape measure and measure your waist circumference at the widest part of your waist. Don’t measure where you wear your pants. By the way, where you wear your pants isn’t your waist circumference, it’s the top of your pelvic circumference. Your waist circumference is above that. Measure (or have someone else measure) the widest part of your waist by standing sideways and looking in a mirror. You can also do this in your bathroom naked after or before a shower to get the most accurate reading. Then you simply divide your waist measurement in inches into your height in inches. For example, if your waist circumference was 32 inches and you are 5’4” tall (64 inches), your HtWR would be .5 or 50%. Your height is double your waist circumference.
So why is this number significant to your overall health and a strong predictor of future mortality? Because it is directly measuring how much fat and weight you are carrying through your trunk or mid-section. Fat in your belly or truck is known as "visceral fat" and this is NO BUENO (no good). It crushes your internal organs, leads to a fatty liver, and produces many different cytokines, inflammatory molecules, and hormones that are bad for your health. If patients ask me "what’s the number one thing I can do for my health?" I would tell them to control the visceral fat in their belly. We actually have a device and technology called an InBody scanner that measures visceral and trunk fat. The average person should have no more than 10-15lbs of fat in their trunk depending on how tall they are. We frequently see people carrying 20, 30, or 40 lbs. of fat in their trunk. Holy ticking time bomb, Batman!
Know that when you measure your WtHR (waist to height ratio), you are shooting for a .4-.5 number or a 40%-50% number. That’s a good score and you have a much higher chance of living a long life. If your number falls between .5 and .6 (50-60%), considered a “pear-shape”, you should consider taking action. If your number falls above .6 or 60% or higher, considered an “apple-shape”, you shouldn’t consider taking action, you should TAKE ACTION because you are at serious risk for early mortality related to metabolic disease.
There are so many predictors of health AND/OR future disability and early death if we would just pay attention to and look at our bodies from time to time. Most of us are “present biased”, meaning we are so wrapped up in the now, we don’t take time to see if how we are living is going to lead to a happy future. Also, some people are just plain what I called IGNOREant. They just don’t care and do whatever they like and ignore their health until it’s too late. If we only knew today exactly what our future looked like tomorrow, most of us would live our lives differently.
Best in Health,
Dr. Dane Donohue is a Chiropractor in Newtown PA and has been serving his community for over 25 years. Wellness Solution Centers provides all the services you need for a healthy life.