around the corner, even more people will make resolutions to start unreasonably priced fitness programs or suffer through tasteless juice diets they will never complete.
Everyone’s body is different as is every individual’s ideal weight. Factors such as environment, genetics, habits, gender, age metabolism, and several other dynamics influence a person’s weight. Just as importantly, one must consider one’s body type, height, bone density, and fat to muscle ratio. Knowing this information is vital to help implement the right diet and exercise routine.
Following a general work-out and diet plan to become as “ripped” as a professional athlete or as curvaceous as a fashion model is not the best method to become fit, nor is using body mass index (BMI) or waist-hip ratio (WHR) alone the best means for calculating one’s weight.
While BMI alone is no longer the best way to measure a person’s body-fat ratio, combined with the WHR method one just might correctly gauge one’s muscle to fat ratio. If one had to choose between the two methods, assessing one’s WHR is the better way to measure healthy weight because it measures two areas where fat generally accumulates, the hips and waist. However, the best screening tool to determine the body fatness or health of an individual is to measure an individual’s body-fat percentage.
How to Calculate Body Mass Index and Waist-Hip Ratio
Body Mass Index and Waist-Hip Ratio are the two primary ways healthcare professionals determine if a person is at a healthy weight.
BMI (Body Mass Index)
BMI is calculated by taking a person’s weight and height and plugging that information into a simple equation: Take a person’s weight in pounds and multiple it by 703, divided by the square of a person’s height in inches. For example: a person who is 165 lbs and 69 inches tall would have a BMI of 24.36. According to the following BMI chart, the person in the example would be overweight:
- A BMI less than 18.5 falls in the “underweight” range.
- A BMI that is between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a “normal” weight range.
- If the BMI ranges from 25.0 to 29.9, the person is “overweight.”
- BMI’s 30.0 or higher are categorized as “obese.”
Waist-Hip Ratio is the measure of a person’s waist and hip size. To determine one’s WHR, measure the waist just above the navel, then divide that number by their hip measurements taken from the widest part of the hips. For example, if an adult female has a 24 inch waist and 34 inch hips, her WHR is 0.70. Since doctors normally consider a patient’s WHR an indicator of whether that person is at risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, taking a person’s WHR is a more accurate way of assessing if a person is at a healthy weight.
WHR Assessment Chart
- less than 0.9 in men or 0.8 in women – low risk of developing heart disease and diabetes
- From 0.9 to 0.99 in men or from 0.8 to 0.89 in women – at a moderate risk for cardiovascular and diabetes health issues
- greater than 1 in men or more than 0.9 in women – chances of cardiovascular and diabetes problems are high
Understanding the Roles of Waist-Hip Ratio and Body Mass Index
Generally, most doctors and health care professionals have used BMI as the primary measure to calculate a person’s weight. However, BMI has multiple limitations in that it does not take into consideration the difference between muscle and flab. A well-conditioned athlete and an overweight person who lives a sedentary lifestyle may have the same BMI if both are the same height and weight.
Also, while WHR is useful to measure fat distribution in a person’s body, waist-hip ratio is limited in that it does not factor in lean body mass or fat mass; therefore, a person with a high waist to hip ratio may have a low body fat percentage.
Assessing Body-fat Percentage
Most health experts agree that measuring a person’s total body-fat percentage is the best method to determine a person’s muscle to fat ratio and overall health. A person’s total body-fat includes essential fat that the body needs and storage fat that slowly builds up in the adipose tissue. A healthy man should have an essential fat percentage between two and four percent and no more than 18-25 percent total body-fat.
A woman is at a healthy weight should measure 10-12 percent of essential fat and no more than 25-31 percent total body-fat. A doctor or health care professional may utilize an Air Displacement Plethysmography (ADP) sealed chamber, a Near Infrared Interactance (NIR) light beam, or a Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry body scan to measure a patient’s body-fat percentage.
Maintaining a healthy weight helps prevent and control many problematic health conditions. So before health problems develop or that fitness resolution fades, have the doctor conduct a body-fat percentage test. This information can help target what type of diet and exercise program is best to get to that ideal weight.