How to crack your waistline ‘fat code’ – and why it matters to your health

As the new year kicks off, so do new fitness regimes – but new research led by Professor Tim Spector, of the Zoe health app, shows that waist size is a better guide to your health than your BMI. Together with a team of experts, he has created a three-part ‘reduce your waist, improve your health’ plan for The Independent, to help you trim your figure and lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and strokes

Monday 01 January 2024 06:30 GMT
It is important to measure your waist accurately
It is important to measure your waist accurately (Getty)

You’re probably aware that as Britons, we’re getting fatter. But did you know we’re also getting wider? That’s much more than a beach body problem. Growing evidence has confirmed the association between waist circumference and the risk of serious preventable conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

Last month, official figures revealed that in the first half of 2023, there were an extra 28,000 deaths in the UK. The biggest rise in unexpected deaths was in adults aged 50-64, who have increasingly been dying prematurely from preventable problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

But instead of BMI, health bosses are increasingly focusing on waist circumference as a measure of these health risks. In April 2022, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that people with a BMI of under 35 measure their waist-to-height ratio to work out whether they’re carrying enough weight around the middle to predispose them to a higher risk of metabolic diseases. It advised keeping your waist measurement to half your height or less.

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