Sunday, September 24th, 2017

It isn’t weight management, it’s fat management


The previous blog post discussed BMI and how having a BMI in the normal range does not necessarily mean you don’t carry unhealthy levels of fat. The previous blog also indicated that some people in the obese range (heavily muscled athletes) do not always carry excessive levels of fat that meet the criteria for obesity.

BMI can be further informed by doing simple things like looking at yourself naked in the mirror, or pinching your fat levels above your hip and under your shoulder blade. These simple assessments will soon tell you whether you carry excess fat not indicated by your BMI.

Where your fat is located and knowing what type of fat it is, is extremely important. Visceral fat carries a greater health risk than subcutaneous fat. In general women have more subcutaneous fat and men have more visceral fat, but sophisticated, and usually expensive, assessments are required to determine this.

So, to get an holistic view of your health risks both a measure of body composition (body fat analysis) as well as BMI is important. The simplest and cheapest way to get an idea of body composition is to take a waist circumference measure. Below are the waist circumference measures associated with an increased relative health risk for people with BMIs <35.

Please note: waist circumference is not taken in people with BMIs >35 because they exceed the cut-off anyway, so adding waist circumference to a measure of BMI is redundant.

High Risk:

Men: >102cm or 40 inches

Women: >88cm or 35 inches


To measure your waist use a tape measure. While different experts recommend varying places to measure your waist circumference, as a general guide, your waist is the narrowest part of your trunk, or approximately 1 inch above your belly button. For those of you who don’t appear to have a waist simply measure at the navel level so you have an accurate reference of change as you lose weight.

Regular weighing and regular measurement of waist circumference are recommended ways to stay aware of your weight and fat levels and therefore support both weight loss and weight management endeavours.

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