Want to know a newly found secret for living a long and healthy life? Apparently it applies regardless of your age, gender, or ethnicity. The riddle of good health is solved in part with a simple formula, which predicts how many years of someone’s life will be lost to obesity. According to recent research, the key to longevity is having a waist size that is no more than half your height.
Here’s how you work out the formula for better health:
- 1. Measure the waist (circumference between the lowest rib and hip bone, around your middle), making sure not to breathe in to artificially expand your waistline.
- 2. Subtract this number (in inches, centimeters, etc.) from your total height in the same way (inches, centimeters, etc.)
If your waistline is at least half your height or less, you can expect to live the average life expectancy of about 81. For every inch over the halfway point, you can expect to shave off several months, or even years from your total life span.
For example, an average man who is 5ft 10in tall, or 70 inches, should have a waist size no bigger than 35 inches. A 5ft 4in woman should have a waist size of 32 inches or under.
If the 5 ft 10 in man notices his waistline has expanded to 42 inches (which is 60 percent of his height) he can expect to take around 2 years off his total life, according to this formula. You get the idea.
It doesn’t seem like much in the case of a man with a 42-inch waist, but for someone who has a 56-inch waist at the same height, they are looking at losing more than two decades off their total life expectancy!
These calculations were devised by researchers at Cass Business School at City University, London who looked at the records of more than 300,000 adults with age differences spanning at least 20 years.
Dr Margaret Ashwell, the lead researchers of the study, said it should be used as a simple health check that anyone can do at home – and a simple reality check if your middle has started to bulge a bit.
Waist circumference is an important indicator of overall health because it shows the amount of central fat in the body – linked to high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.
Ashwell thinks the waist-to-height ratio is even more telling than the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is widely used by doctors today. She says if people rely on the BMI, they are not getting an accurate reading of their health.
Professor Les Mayhew, who was also involved in the study to be published by the Public Library of Science, said:
“There is now overwhelming evidence there should place greater emphasis on waist-to-height ratio as a screening tool.”
Since obesity is taking lives more quickly than almost any other health issue, it would make sense that news such as this would direct us toward healthier eating and a more active lifestyle. After all, exercise itself has been shown to add years to your life.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.