Is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson fat? You’d be forgiven for thinking not, but according to official weight calculators, the Hollywood hunk is technically obese.
But the wrestler-actor, famed for his chiseled physique, isn’t the only superstar mislabeled by the body mass index (BMI) formula.
Fast and Furious actor Vin Diesel is also considered too flabby, with a BMI of 30 – one less than Dwayne.
Meanwhile, The Terminator himself, the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger, was dangerously close to the morbidly obese threshold at the peak of his fitness in the 1980s, with a whopping BMI of 33.
Experts say the celebrity examples are proof it’s time to finally ditch the hated benchmark measurement, which is roughly calculated by dividing your weight by your height.
The calls came to a head yesterday as researchers said BMI should be replaced by the lesser-known waist-to-hip ratio because it better predicts whether someone will die young.
Conceived by a Belgian mathematician in the 1830s, doctors have now relied on BMI for almost two centuries.
It is used to classify people as underweight (with a score below 18.5), healthy (18.5 to 24.9), overweight (25 to 29.9) or obese (30 or more) .
But it has one major flaw, critics insist.
BMI cannot tell the difference between fat distribution and muscle mass.
Realistically, that means a rugby player and a coughing potato of the same height and weight would share the scores – even if the former has a ripped physique and the other is wearing a spare tire.
Hollywood Hunk or Hulk? Muscular celebrities like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Vin Diesel and Arnold Schwarzenegger are considered obese according to the body mass index formula which is widely used by health authorities around the world. Some scientists now argue that it should be replaced. Mr Schwarzenegger’s figures date from his ‘heyday’ as a bodybuilder
Waist-to-hip ratio is one of the contenders to replace BMI. It is calculated by dividing the circumference of your waist by that of your hips. Women with a ratio of 0.85 or higher and men with a score of 0.9 or higher are considered to have high risk levels of visceral fat
Dr Arya Sharma, an obesity expert at the University of Alberta in Canada, told MailOnline the examples show how BMI measures a person’s height, not obesity.
“BMI is a measure of height, not health,” he said.
“Obesity is a medical diagnosis that should be based on the presence of health problems resulting from excess body fat – it is not diagnosed simply by stepping on a scale.”
Ifran Khan, a medical student based at University College Cork who wrote the latest paper calling for the abandonment of BMI, said: “It does not reliably predict the risk of disease or mortality.”
Judging WHR can help people determine if they are carrying excess weight around their middle, said Khan and other experts.
Studies have repeatedly shown that this spare tire, as it is colloquially known, can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
How to calculate your waist-to-hip ratio
The waist-to-hip ratio is a measurement indicating healthy levels of body fat.
Use a measuring tape to determine your waist circumference – the smallest width of your natural waistline, usually just above the navel.
Then do the same for your hips – the widest part of your buttocks.
Divide the waist circumference by the hip circumference to determine the ratio.
The score value differs for men and women.
For women, a low risk score is 0.8 or less, while moderate risk is 0.81 to 0.85 and 0.85 or more.
In men, it is 0.95 or less, 0.96 to 1 or 1 or more.
The ratio is the circumference of your waist – usually just above your navel – divided by that of your hips or the widest part of your buttocks.
Women with a ratio above 0.85 and men with 0.9 are considered to be at greater risk of experiencing the knock-on effects of obesity.
Mr Khan said the celebrity examples demonstrated the flaws of BMI.
“This captures exactly the main point of the study: regardless of your BMI, WHR remains consistent in its ability to predict death,” he said.
“As the photographs show, even if they have an ‘obese’ BMI, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have an increased risk of disease or death.”
Dr Khan and his colleagues presented a study explaining why we should stop using the BMI scale at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm.
Their study tracked the health records of more than 50,000 deceased adults.
Experts have measured a person’s likelihood of dying prematurely based on their BMI, WHR, or Body Fat Index, which, like BMI, represents the amount of fat a person has relative to their body fat. cut.
The results showed that a higher WHR increased the risk of death in a linear fashion.
This meant that the risk of premature death was lowest for those with the smallest waist-to-hip ratio, before rising steadily as the figure increased.
By comparison, those with an extremely high or low BMI or IMF had a higher risk of death than those in the middle.
HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR BODY MASS INDEX – AND WHAT IT MEANS
BBody mass index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height.
- BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703
- BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))
- Less than 18.5: Underweight
- 18.5 – 24.9: In good health
- 25 – 29.9: Overweight
- 30 – 39.9: Obese
- 40+: Morbid obesity
According to the authors, this means that WHR was the better predictor of early death of any kind than other types of obesity measures.
Mr Khan said: ‘The main limitation of BMI is that it does not take into account differences in fat distribution.
“This could mean that a person who has accumulated fat around their waist will have the same BMI as a person of the same age and height who stores their fat around their hips, despite the health risks of abdominal fat.
“WHR, however, better reflects abdominal fat levels, including visceral fat, which wraps around organs deep inside the body.
‘With WHR, the message is simply [that] the lower the WHR, the lower your mortality risk.
He added: “Clinical recommendations and interventions should prioritize setting healthy WHR goals rather than general BMI goals.
“A more accurate measure of healthy body shape can make a significant difference to poor health and death from type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and many other conditions.”
Criticism of BMI’s inaccuracy is not new, however.
Even the NHS itself warns of its flaws, including the muscle vs fat issue.
It also states that it should not be used for pregnant women due to inevitable weight gain as a baby develops in the womb.
BMI also fails to detect certain obesity risks linked to different ethnic origins.
For example, studies have shown that people of South Asian descent have a higher genetic risk for type 2 diabetes if they have a BMI over 23, which is considered a healthy score for other groups.
However, some argue that BMI is the most useful indicator we have for the weight and health of the general population.
And others have argued that using WHR has its own issues.
Responding to the most recent study, Professor Nick Finer, a consultant based at University College London, said: ‘It is well established that BMI is an imperfect measure.
He added, however, that “there is a problem with relying on the waist-to-hip ratio as a measure of the severity of obesity.”
This is “because it changes little with modest weight loss and therefore does not necessarily reflect improved health”.
More than 42 million adults in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2040, Cancer Research UK projects
It comes after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said in April that people should ensure their waist circumference is less than half their height to avoid health problems.
Adults with a body mass index (BMI) below 35 should measure their own height-to-height ratio as part of broader plans to tackle obesity, he said.
Excess weight is believed to be one of Britain’s biggest and fastest growing health problems, with latest data showing that 64% of adults are overweight, and more of us should be fatter in the future.
Obesity is not just increasing Britons’ height but also healthcare costs, with the NHS spending around £6.1billion treating weight-related illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers between 2014 and 2015.
In the United States, an estimated 73.6% of adults are overweight or obese.
What should be done to tackle Britain’s burgeoning waistline is up for debate.
New Prime Minister Liz Truss is said to be considering scrapping a series of ‘nanny state’ anti-obesity measures in a supposed bid to help with the cost of living crisis.
The decision prompted a coalition of 70 health organizations to write to Ms Truss today, expressing their ‘deep concern’ over the supposed reversals.
Origin: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk