It is known that body mass index (BMI) is an important tool to estimate if you are overweight, obese, too thin, or at a healthy weight.
BMI is calculated by dividing your body weight (kilograms) by your height (meters squared).
In the past, this index has been used to indicate risk of various diseases.
Basically, the higher your BMI, the higher your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and other disease.
However, a new study recently finds that BMI may not be the best indicator of heart disease. The researchers suggest that waist-to-hip ratio could be a stronger indicator.
The study was led by University College London, and the findings are published in the journal Circulation.
Waist-to-hip ratio is an index that measures central adiposity (belly fat). It is different from BMI, which measures the general adiposity (whole body fat).
In the study, the researchers wanted to see if high waist-to-hip ratio could indicate heart disease better.
They analyzed published data from 14 studies that included 66,842 cases for heart disease, 12,389 cases for ischemic stroke cases, and 34,840 cases for type 2 diabetes.
They focused on the relation between the waist-to-hip ratio, BMI and disease risk as well as people’s metabolic functions.
The results showed that higher waist-to-hip ratio was associated with a 48% higher risk of heart disease, like findings for BMI.
However, only waist-to-hip ratio was linked to higher risk of ischemic stroke. For type 2 diabetes, both measures had large effects.
Both waist-to-hip ratio and BMI were associated with higher left ventricular hypertrophy, glycemic traits, interleukin-6, and circulating lipids.
In addition, waist-to-hip ratio was also associated with higher carotid intima-media thickness.
Based on the results, the authors suggest that both BMI and waist-to-hip ratio can indicate heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Waist-to-hip ratio may have a stronger effect on stroke risk. Future estimates should include both measures.