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Dr Russ Blog - Waist Not
Waist Not
Created on 8/27/2010

Nowadays when you go to your doctor's office the staff not only measures your height and weight, along with many other things, but they calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index):

BMI = weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared

The BMI result is used to help classify people based on their weight per height, the main categories being normal (18.5 to less than 25), overweight (25 to less than 30) and obese (30 and above). Prior studies have shown that rising BMI numbers (overweight and obesity) are associated with worse health outcomes.

There is another measurement that may take place at your doctor's office, and it may be even more important than BMI - your waist circumference. Measured midway between your hips and lower ribs while standing, and with your abdomen relaxed (no sucking in your stomach!), you are at increased risk of illness if your waist circumference is:

Men - greater than 40 inches (102 cm)

Women - greater than 35 inches (88 cm)

Why would this be?

Medical experts believe that the fat we deposit around our mid-sections, often referred to as central or visceral adiposity, releases a variety of chemical compounds that can cause problems, mainly because they tend to increase inflammation throughout the body.

And inflammation may be the common driver of a whole host of diseases.

The study showed that even if a person is of normal weight for height, if their belly is getting bigger they are at increased risk of getting sick in the future.

We all know that maintaining optimal weight is important for our health, but limiting the accumulation of fat around our abdomen is very important, too. It's hard but we all know what we need to do - eat a healthy and anti-inflammatory diet (think the Mediterranean-style way of eating), exercise regularly, get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, and manage stress in healthy ways.

And if your waistline is expanding, even if your weight has not increased, take that as a wake-up call to action.

All you need is a paper tape measure and you can get a good idea of what your waist circumference is. If it's higher than the numbers listed above you know you need to get more serious about your health.

You know what you need to do to shrink that belly a little and stay healthy - to borrow a famous tag line, just do it! Your doctor will help you, too.

Be well.
Dr. Russ

** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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