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Waist-to-hip Ratio Is Better To Measure Body Fat Than BMI

bmi for women

Last updated on September 8th, 2022 at 05:29 pm

It’s not just men who struggle with body fat measurement. Many women also find themselves struggling with measuring their body fat percentage.

Body Fat for Women: Body fat is stored energy that we use throughout our lives. We need body fat to survive and thrive. When we eat food, some of it goes toward building muscle mass and some go toward storing energy. Our bodies store excess calories as body fat. In order to lose weight, we have to burn off more than we take in. If we don’t do any exercise at all, we’ll just gain back what we lost. But if we work out regularly, we can reduce our body fat percentage.

There are many alternatives to measuring body fat for women, including using a caliper, bioelectrical impedance analysis, skin fold measurements, and even ultrasound. But these methods aren’t always accurate, especially for women with large breasts and/or heavy thighs.
In this article, we will cover 3 new alternative methods for measuring body fat for women. We will compare each method against the traditional method called “skinfold testing” and see how well they work. We will also discuss why most of these alternative methods fail to measure body fat accurately.  

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a way to determine if someone is overweight or obese. You can use the BMI calculator to find your BMI. If you’re underweight, you may need to gain weight. If you’re overweight, you may need to lose weight (BMI for Women).

Despite being used for decades as the “go-to” measurement for health based on size, BMI has been widely criticized for oversimplifying what being healthy really means

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is the measurement used to compare your weight to your height (or vice versa).

Drawbacks to BMI method

However, How often should I weigh myself? Is weighing yourself every day a good idea? What else should I consider before deciding whether or not to weigh myself daily?

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a widely accepted method of determining someone’s risk of developing obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated using weight and height measurements. BMI is a ratio of weight to height squared. To calculate BMI, divide weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. An ideal body weight range is 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m². Overweight people have BMIs ranging from 25 to 29.9 kg/m^2; obese people have BMIs greater than 30 kg/m^2.

While BMI is useful for predicting health risks, it has some limitations. For example, it only takes into account your weight and ignores other important aspects of your overall health, such as your waist circumference. In addition, BMI fails to distinguish between lean tissue and fat tissue.

In fact, many claim BMI is outdated and inaccurate and shouldn’t be used in medical and fitness settings.

BMI is not the best measurement of your health. So what is a better measurement?

BMI alternatives

So what else should you consider besides body fat percentage? There are other ways to measure your health such as Body Fat Percentage, Waist Circumference, Waist to Height Ratio, Waist to Hip Ratio, etc. These measurements provide a more accurate picture of your health.

It has been suggested that the WHR is a better indicator of a health risk than BMI because it takes into account body shape. For example, women who carry excess weight around their middle tend to store more fat around their hips than around their waist. In contrast, men with large bellies often have less fat around their midsection than around their hips.

Body Fat Percentage

The first alternative, Body fat percentage is the relative amount of body fat a person has.

bmi for women - fat

Body fat percentage is a measurement of the amount of fat stored in your body. It is measured using a special caliper that measures the circumference of your arms, legs, chest, and stomach. These measurements are then added together and divided by 4 to get the total body fat percentage. Body fat percentage is a more accurate representation than BMI because it takes into account the amount of muscle you have.

Waist Circumference Measurement

The circumference of the waist can be used as a BMI alternative even without a hip measurement; this is useful for individuals who are obese or otherwise have difficulty making a hip measurement. Given the health risks associated with having a high percentage of abdominal fat, measuring waist circumference can give you an idea of whether you are at risk. 

  • Use a measuring tape.
  • Surround the measuring tape at the natural waist, that is, in between the lowest rib and top of the hip bone or at the navel button.
  • The waist circumference (WC) measures around the widest portion of the abdomen at the level of the umbilicus. A normal WC ranges between 35 inches and 40 inches. If the WC exceeds 40 inches, then it indicates obesity.

bmi for women - waist

According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, women with a waist circumference of over 35 inches and men with a waist circumference of over 40 inches have an increased risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes

Waist to Hip Ratio

What is the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)? Is it important to measure it? And why should I care?

Waist-to-height ratios measure the proportion of fat stored in the abdominal region compared to total body size. Abdominal fat stores are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

WHR is calculated by dividing the waist measurement by the height. A high WHR means that the person’s waistline is larger relative to his or her height. This number helps determine whether or not you are at risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and other health conditions. 

A higher WHR means that your body fat distribution is concentrated around your middle. If you want to reduce your risk of these diseases, then you should try to lower your WHR.

bmi for women - waist ratio

A measurement of the waist is taken at either the smallest point of the waist or just above the belly button and divided by a measurement of the widest part of the hips; results larger than 0.85 for women or 0.9 for men indicate abdominal obesity.

  • Measure the waist circumference.
  • Measure the hip at its widest diameter.
  • Divide waist measurement by hip measurement.

WHR for womenHealth risks for obesity-related conditions
0.8 or lowerLow
0.81 to 0.84Moderate
0.85 or higherHigh

Waist-to-height ratio (WHR)

Waist-to-height ratios measure the proportion of fat stored in the abdominal region compared to total body size. Abdominal fat stores are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. WHR is calculated by dividing the waist measurement by the height. A high WHR means that the person’s waistline is larger relative to his or her height.

Hip circumference (HC)

Hip circumference measures around the fullest part of the buttocks. Normal hip circumference ranges between 34 inches and 38 inches. If the HC exceeds 39 inches, then it indicates overweight.

Does BMI apply differently to Black women and people of color?

The BMI was originally designed to estimate body fat percentage in white men. It was later modified to account for other ethnicities. For example, Asians tend to have lower BMIs than whites, even though they have higher body fat percentages.

Asian Americans have a “normal weight obesity” body type. This means their BMI for Women usually falls within the normal range but they have a higher percentage of body fat at any given BMI.

Therefore, the BMI (body mass index) scale has been lowered to accurately identify those who are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, which affects people from Asian populations.

A recent study found that the BMI likely overestimates overweight and obesity in the Inuit population.

Ethnically diverse populations have different body compositions. For example, Black women tend to have higher BMIs than White women. However, there is not enough research to determine if these differences are clinically significant. More studies are needed to understand the causes of these differences and whether they contribute to higher BMIs among Black women.

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