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Measure Up

In 2012, 30 to 44% of Sri Lankan* adults were classified as overweight or obese. An increased waistline is a sign that you could be at greater risk of developing serious health problems and put you into higher risk of a number of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and some cancers.

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Why measure waist circumference?

Fat around your organs is called visceral or intra abdominal fat, while subcutaneous fat, is the fat right under the skin. Both types of fat play a role in contributing to health problems, however intra abdominal fat is the ‘danger’ fat when it comes to chronic disease.

A waist measurement of greater than 94cm for men or 80cm for women increases the risk of chronic disease.

Using waist circumference in relation to BMI

Large studies* have shown that high waist circumference is bad for health, regardless of whether the BMI is categorised as normal, overweight or obese.  No matter what your weight or BMI is, avoiding gains in waist circumference may reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases and premature mortality.

Measuring your waist line is a simple check

Measuring your waist circumference is a simple check to tell how much body fat you have and where it is placed around your body.

The correct place to measure your waist is horizontally halfway between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone. This is roughly in line with your belly button.

measuring yourself

For an accurate measurement:

• Measure directly against your skin

• Breathe out normally.

• Make sure the tape is snug, without compressing the skin.

What does my waist measurement mean?

According to the WHO and NHMRC, the waist measurements below(no matter what your height is) suggest you have an increased risk of developing a chronic disease:

 Increased risk

− Men: more than 94 cm/ 37 inches

− Women: more than 80 cm/ 31 inches

Greatly increased risk

− Men: more than 102 cm/ 40 inches

− Women: more than 88 cm/ 35 inches

What if my waist circumference is too high?

Studies show that if you have a high waist circumference, a waist reduction of just 5 cm can significantly reduce risk and make a BIG difference. It is not possible to cut body fat in one specific part of the body through lifestyle intervention. However, eating healthy, adding strength/resistance training and cardiovascular exercise can help reduce overall body fat, whilst decreasing stomach fat.

Practical tips for Weight Loss

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat more fruit and vegetables
  3. Eat regular meals and monitor your feelings of hunger and fullness.
  4. Don’t skip meals – and always eat a healthy high fibre breakfast (e.g. bowl of oats with sliced banana & skim milk).
  5. At each meal, fill half your plate with veggies. Divide the other half into two quarters and fill one quarter with lean protein, such as fish, skinless poultry, lean beef, beans or tofu. Fill the other quarter with a grain-based or starchy side dish, preferably a whole grain like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or a slice of whole-grain bread (see figure below).

portion plate6. Limit your intake of “extra” foods. These foods are not essential to provide the nutrients the body needs and some contain too much added fat, sugar and/ or salt, therefore contribute unnecessary energy to the diet. Examples include fried snacks, chocolate, biscuits, cakes and soft drinks. Choose these foods sometimes or in small amounts.

Physical activity guidelines

Physical activity can accelerate your weight loss by allowing you to expend more energy. In addition to weight loss, physical activity is important for health, fitness and weight maintenance.

There are three steps for better health:

  • Step 1 – Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience
  • Step 2 – Be active every day in as many ways as you can. For example, take the stairs whenever you can and reduce sitting time.
  • Step 3 – Put together at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. To sustain weight loss, you should increase to at least 60-90 min daily. Examples of moderate intensity activity include brisk walking, bicycling and general gardening activities. If you’re doing moderate-intensity activity you can talk, but not sing, during the activity.

Keep Checking!

After working on your eating and exercise habits, measure your waist again in six to eight weeks. If your waist circumference has decreased, you are heading in the right direction!

*Article was written in Sri Lanka.

**For more information on the studies, go to this link: http://www.cutthewaist.com/importance.html.