Waist Size Helps Predict Heart Risk In Teenagers

A new study uses waist measurements and body mass index to help predict health risks in teenagers.

Using waist measurements together with body mass index may better predict a teenager’s cardiovascular risk than using B.M.I. alone, a new study finds.

Pediatricians and medical groups routinely use B.M.I. as a measure of unhealthy weight in children.  This index, calculates by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square foot of their height in meters.   It cannot differentiate between fatty and lean tissue. So if you are muscular and use just B.M.I, these measurements would classify you as obese even though you are not.

Some researchers have suggested using either a waist circumference or waist to height ratio to measure health.  A study in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine disputes using either measure alone was not enough.

Dr. Brian W. McCrindle (and colleagues) performed a study at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.  They gathered detailed data on more than 4,000 14- and 15-year-olds. All kids selected had a B.M.I. in the 85th to 95th percentile for their age.  The 85th percentile classified them as overweight.   The 95th percentile classified them as obese.

They took measurements of the waist to height ratios, measured their cholesterol levels (good and bad).   Teenagers whose B.M.I. had put them in the obese category showed a trend toward higher blood pressure with higher waist-to-height ratios.

Waist size should be half of height or less, the researchers found. Above that ratio, they began seeing associations with cardiovascular risk factors.  This is in high school kids.

“While B.M.I. is a useful number,” Dr. McCrindle said, “using it together with waist circumference might give you a better indicator of what someone’s risk is for complications associated with obesity.”

References: Taken from article written by ANAHAD O’CONNOR, Reporter