Feb. 25, 2020

Measuring waist circumference in addition to BMI is a much better risk assessor for obesity-related diseases than BMI alone, an international group of researchers have declared. BGU public health researcher Prof. Iris Shai (pictured below) was a signatory to a consensus statement that was just published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology on Tuesday, following their recent statement regarding visceral adiposity in Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol
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While BMI has become a standard measurement taken at every doctor's office, waist circumference is also a strong indicator of future risk for obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The focus solely on weight is misleading and does not tell the whole story, according to the researchers. Citing research going back decades, they contend waist circumference and waist circumference reduction play important roles. 

"As long as intra-body fat imaging is out of reach for the population, the combination of reducing the waist circumference, lowering blood lipids (triglycerides) good cholesterol (HDL) ratio, along with a moderate reduction in body mass index, would be a good estimate for improving the profile of intra-body fat stores and a significant health indicator. This straightforward measurement would increase doctors' abilities to steer patients towards risk-reducing behaviors such as moderate exercise and dietary interventions," says Prof. Shai. 

Prof. Shai, a member of the S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition and the Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences at BGU in Beer-Sheva, has conducted groundbreaking long-term dietary clinical trials and is one of the leading researchers in the field. The findings of the Israeli studies have contributed to the understanding that as long as the extent of the waist more accurately reflects the risk of morbidity than the body mass index, dramatic changes in the volume of intra-abdominal (visceral) fat and heart fat and hepatic pancreas fat filtration can follow through exercising and eating a Mediterranean diet. The scale does not always reflect those internal effects. 

The consensus statement is entitled "Waist circumference as a vital sign in clinical practice: A Consensus Statement from the IAS and ICCR Working Group on Visceral Obesity" and the lead author was Prof. Robert Ross of Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada. The consensus statement emerged from the International Atherosclerosis Society (IAS) and International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk (ICCR) Working Group on Visceral Obesity.​

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