THE secret of a long and healthy life is simple – keep your waist trimmer than half your height.
Sticking to this easy-to-follow rule can increase life expectancy by slashing the risk of diabetes and heart disease, research has found.
Experts say it is time to ditch the Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement, which is the current way of monitoring obesity. Instead, they say waist to height ratio (WHtR) is a significantly better predictor of health risks.
The BMI method has been branded inaccurate because it can show that people who are very muscular and therefore weigh a lot are obese when actually they have very little body fat.
Now research by Dr Margaret Ashwell, of Ashwell Associates, Hertfordshire, and Oxford Brookes University, and Sigrid Gibson, of Sig-Nurture Ltd in Guildford, has shown that WHtR is a better indicator because it takes into account differing ethnic groups.
Dr Ashwell said: “Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world.”
Her findings, presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, came from a review of studies that assessed the different ways of using body measurements to pinpoint people with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, abnormal body fat levels and general cardiovascular problems.
Researchers at Cass Business School at City University in London have estimated that a 30-year-old non-smoking man could reduce his life expectancy by as much as 14percent if his WHtR is 70 per cent and by as much as a third if it is 80 per cent.
BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared. If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 you are overweight. If it is over 30 you are obese.
Using WHtR, even a waist measure- ment of 37 inches in men and 32 in women may significantly raise the risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as some cancers.