Stop Using BMI As A Wellness Metric

For those at the forefront of the health and fitness industry, the inferiority of BMI to other bodily measures has been pretty well discussed over the past couple years. Indeed, the consensus has been that waist circumference is a better measure of overall health than the BMI, which only looks at total weight and height.

These discoveries are finally making their way into the media at large, as evidenced by yesterday’s article in The Telegraph. From the article:

People with the highest waist-to-height ratio, whose waistlines measured 80 per cent of their height, lived 17 years fewer than average.

Keeping your waist circumference to less than half of your height can help prevent the onset of conditions like stroke, heart disease and diabetes and add years to life, researchers said.

For a 6ft man, this would mean having a waistline smaller than 36in, while a 5ft 4in woman should have a waist size no larger than 32in.

So, what does this mean for your company’s wellness program? It actually doesn’t affect much. You just have a different measurement to track: waist circumference instead of total weight.

You may also be wondering why BMI “all of a sudden” isn’t that great of an indicator, and why you should change. BMI is a funny measurement in that it doesn’t account for body fat at all. It just looks at weight. Many professional athletes qualify as “overweight” or “obese” on the BMI scale because of their added muscle mass, but they are anything but obese.

Meanwhile, waist circumference is a much better indicator of health because it focuses on abdominal body fat (also called visceral body fat). This fat is the more dangerous of the two types of body fat because of its presence in and around the internal organs. It is connected to higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases that can wreak havoc on your work force’s health and productivity.

High levels of visceral fat can actually reduce your work force by entire people:

People with the highest waist-to-height ratio, whose waistlines measured 80 per cent of their height, lived 17 years fewer than average.

If someone happens to live 17 fewer years than the average, can you imagine just how horrible their medical expenses are during their working years? Diabetes medication, hospitalizations, you name it, that person probably has it. And if that person is on your payroll and has health insurance, you’re going to be helping to pay for it.

If your company hasn’t already, start using waist circumference instead of BMI measurements in your biometric screenings. It will provide a better overall picture of the health of your employees, their disease risk, and their potential liability to your company.

Does your company still use BMI? Are you considering a change to waist circumference now? Or do you already use waist circumference?

This entry was posted in Metrics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Stop Using BMI As A Wellness Metric

  1. Pingback: My Wife is Waisting A-Weigh | brandcall

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s