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Waist Measurement Says More About Health Than BMI

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I hate the scale. It's not for the reasons that most people hate the scale though. I hate it because it's used incorrectly. It's also used as the measure of success or failure in body recomposition. The tool sucks, yet so many put so much stock in it.

Especially the maintainer group. De-emphasizing the scale should be a top priority. This is about getting healthy and strong, not placating the scale.

With my rant out of the way, I present you some science that says the scale sucks.

"Waist circumference consistently exhibited the most prominent association with mortality risk for all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality compared with weaker associations for BMI and waist–hip ratio", the researchers conclude."
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Uhh ... I never said throw away BMI. I said the scale sucks.
    1830 days ago
    Also, I think you should go look at the original article before you decide to believe what journalists get out of an article. Because your title does not reflect their conclusion:

    " The results support the use of waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio in addition to BMI in the assessment of the risk of death, particularly among persons with a low BMI."

    They are not saying to throw out BMI. They are saying you should use it in conjunction with other measurements.
    1830 days ago
    I'm 6'8", 230 lbs. According to BMI and any other regression curve out there, I'm fat. One because those formulas are inaccurate at the low end and high end. Two because there's no accounting for muscularity. At age 24, I was 230lbs and fat. Not so much now. When I put my jeans on and they're snug, that's what tells me I'm fat.
    1830 days ago
    I understand what you're getting at but, to me, an obsession is an obsession. If you've become obsessed with jumping on the scale every day, I reckon it'd be just as easy for you to become obsessed with your body fat percentage, waist measurement or whatever other indicator you choose to use to gauge your success. Most of the measures that we use to determine whether we're in good health have a range--and often one that's reasonably liberal. If you're within that range, like the 18-30 BMI that 4A-HEALTHY-BMI referenced, I don't see the harm in using the tools that are available to you to help ensure you stay there. Many of us have endured lifelong cycles of weight loss and regain precisely because we stopped paying attention to, or rather completely ignored, the scale. Unless you're training for a bodybuilding competition, and let's face it, most of us don't even come close to the level of commitment it takes to get into that kind of shape, a healthy person will not see their weight consistently go up in large numbers unless it's the result of a negative trend. Using the scale as one among many tools can help you to identify and reverse the trends that can be detrimental to your overall health.
    1831 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/17/2013 11:20:03 PM
    For me I absolutely need the scale to stay in reality. It is a good tool to pull me up and confront me about what is happening according to how I am eating.
    1831 days ago
    Since it is very very difficult to change muscle mass, like BROOKLYN_BORN the scale is a quick shortcut for me to find out how I'm doing in the fat department. (Because when I put on weight it's almost always fat, especially when it happens relatively quickly). So I'm not going to throw out that tool. As much as I know it irks you to hear it.

    I suspect that a waist to height ratio might be more helpful than an overall waist measurement, because really should a woman who is 5'9" have the same waist as one who is 4'6"? I wish the researchers had addressed this.

    And all along I've claimed that BMI is only useful under 18 or over 30. So bashing BMI in the range between 18 and 30 is moot in my opinion.
    1831 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/18/2013 8:51:41 PM
  • JACKIE542
    Great info, thank you. emoticon
    1831 days ago
    The scale doesn't tell you if you're gaining muscle and bone or fat. I'm a heavy boned person. I'm on the higher end of the normal range and wear a size 4. I looked sickly when my weight was at the lower range of normal.
    1831 days ago
    I used to ignore the scale. That’s how the weight piled on.
    Then as my BMI decreased, so did my waist size. Hip size too.
    It’s too easy for me to delude myself with a tape measure (a slightly different location or pulling it a little more snugly). The ratio was OK before. It’s fine now too, except both numbers are smaller and I don’t have to haul around the extra weight.

    According to the article, a woman should have a waist size below 35”. I don’t know any women with waists larger than that who also have a BMI in the recommended range although there must be some. Can’t the 2 numbers go together?
    Then there’s that waist/hip ratio. As a pear shaped person it’s easy for me to be OK there. In fact, if I add some pounds/inches to my hips, the ratio will be even better. Nah, I don’t want to do that.

    My scale is my friend. One day doesn’t matter, but over time it tells me where I’m going. To each his own - find what works best for you.

    1831 days ago
    emoticon I've always been an advocate for tossing the emoticon out the window & using other methods to measure weight loss, such as measurements & the way to look & feel in your clothes. emoticon
    1831 days ago
  • YMWONG22
    Yup, you are right there. But we can't rule out the scale completely. Just don't put too much emphasis on it.
    Thanks for sharing.
    emoticon emoticon
    1831 days ago
    I'm with you!! I discount the BMI method all together!
    1832 days ago
    I've tried to get over scale"itis" ...and in maintenance it's hard.
    thanks for the link to re-think it.
    1832 days ago
  • DARJR50
    Thanks for the information.
    1832 days ago
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