According to a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, waist circumference can predict a person's risk of disease far better than body mass index (BMI).
The report calls for doctors to screen waist circumference in patients over the age of ten for weight-related health problems, and to use the measurement as a new vital sign as important as blood pressure and heart rate.
The report suggests waist circumference greater than 94 centimetres in men and 80 centimetres in women significantly increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
While the current measure of BMI can provide an indication of body fat, it doesn't indicate where the fat is located. Measuring waist circumference gives an accurate measurement of abdominal fat. People with high levels of abdominal fat are the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as well as metabolic syndrome, a cluster of abnormalities including elevated blood pressure and insulin resistance.
Over the past 25 years, obesity rates have been on the rise in Canada. Currently 8 percent of children are obese (up from 3 percent in 1978/79), while 23 percent of adults are obese (up from 14 percent from 1978/79).
To view a recent report on the obesity status of Canadians, please visit the report from Statistics Canada entitled Canadian Community Health Survey: Obesity Among Children and Adults.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.