Uncovering the Body Mass Myth
Most people know if they’re overweight. But a lot of Americans are being told they’re overweight, even though they don’t look or feel that way. And a couple of recent studies really drive this point home.
The first study, reported by the European Society of Endocrinology, links blood sugar problems with Body Mass Index (BMI). Lower your BMI, the study concluded, and you cut your risk for developing blood sugar trouble… no matter what your BMI may have been to start.1
Researchers from England and Denmark released the 2nd study. This one linked BMI with heart trouble. The higher your BMI, the greater your risk, the study found.2
Here’s the problem with both studies… They used their subject’s Body Mass Index. And BMI isn’t an accurate measure.
BMI is okay for making broad generalizations. But it’s terrible on a personal level. It’s a simple measure that compares your weight to your height. But BMI assumes that all variations from the “norm” are a result of more or less fat.
BMI is a simple calculation. Multiply your height in inches by itself. Divide that number into your weight in pounds. Then multiply the result by 703. So for a man 6 feet tall, weighing 170 pounds you’d do the following calculation:
(170 / (72 x 72)) x 703… which is (170 / 5184) x 703… which is .03279 x 703, or 23.
A BMI of 23 would rank our 6-footer as “normal.” But just barely. Anything over 25 is considered overweight. And a BMI above 30 is considered obese.
But there’s a problem with the BMI.
Take pro wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, for example. Johnson weighs in at 260 lbs. and stands 6’5” tall. With a BMI of 31, he qualifies as obese.
The Rock obese? He’s not alone. The BMI often ranks athletes – with lots of muscle and little fat as overweight. And people with big frames, too.
A much more accurate measure of your risk for health trouble is your Body Fat Percentage (BFP). This calculation is even simpler than the BMI. To calculate BFP, simply divide the number of pounds of body fat you have by your total weight.
The easiest way to calculate your BFP is with the “pinch test.” A professional uses a pair of calipers to measure the fat under your skin at several specific points. By plugging these measurements into a series of equations, they can calculate your body fat percentage.
The caliper method is more accurate than BMI, but it’s still not tremendously accurate. To get a true reading, underwater weighing is probably the most accurate.
You see, lean tissue sinks and fat floats. So
weighing you in and out of the water can tell how much of your body mass is actually made up of fat.
But underwater weighing requires both time and specialized equipment. So it may not be practical for everyone. But there is a simple calculation that’s both practical and accurate.
It’s called “Hip-to-Waist Ratio.” This calculation simply compares the distance around your hips to that of your waist. The result won’t tell you how many pounds of fat you’re carrying, but it will tell you two
- If you’re overweight, and
- If you’re at a higher risk of health problems.
All you need to calculate your Hip-to-Waist Ratio is a tape measure.
Stand with your feet together in a relaxed position. After a normal exhale, take your measurements.
Measure your waist about 1” above the navel. Be honest – don’t squeeze the tape. Then measure your hips at the widest point of your
buttocks. Be sure the entire tape is parallel to the floor.
Now divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. For example, if you have a 32” waist and 34” hips, you’ll divide 32 by 34, which is .94.
For men, a healthy result is .95 or less. Ideally, women should be at .80 or below. If your number is higher, you’re overweight. More importantly, you have a higher risk of heart trouble and other health problems.
So now you know whether or not you’re overweight. What do you do about it? Well, here are two very simple tips to get you started trimming down. They don’t require any real effort. In fact, I think you’ll find them both a pleasure.
First, spice up your food. And start with black pepper.
Black pepper contains a substance called piperine. Recent studies show that piperine actually helps your body block the formation of fat cells.3 So adding pepper to your diet could have a dramatic effect.
Next, sleep more. New research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows sleep has a remarkable weight-loss effect.
In a study using twins, researchers discovered that getting 9 hours of sleep a night could even help your body reverse the effects of genetics on weight gain.4
Finally, stop sweating your Body Mass Index. BMI may be useful on a large scale, but it can be tremendously misleading on a personal level.
Your Hip-to-Waist Ratio will tell you what you really need to know. And a few simple steps can help you bring it into line.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 “Study finds that losing weight when obese can prevent or cure diabetes, whatever the initial BMI,” European Society of Endocrinology. May 4, 2012.
2 “Evidence that BMI has an independent and causal effect on heart disease risk,” University of Bristol. May 1, 2012.
3 Park, U.-H., et al, “Piperine, a Component of Black Pepper, Inhibits Adipogenesis by Antagonizing PPARγ Activity in 3T3-L1 Cells,” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2012; 60(15): 3853–3860.
4 “Longer sleep times may counteract genetic factors related to weight gain,” American Academy of Sleep Medicine. May 01, 2012.