PORTLAND -- For years, health experts have used the "Body Mass Index" to help tell if patients are healthy. Now doctors say the method that divides a person's metric weight by his or her height is outdated.
The BMI tells you what your body mass is, but not where it's distributed on on your body. For example, muscle is heavier than fat, and doctors say some fat is more harmful, depending on where it is on your body.
"It can be very confusing," said Dr. Miles Hassel of Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. "Many people look at a BMI scale and it tells them they have a perfectly normal weight. And yet, they have a lot of visceral fat (around their waists) as evidenced by a ponch."
Hassel called that "normal weight obesity." He said you won't always be able to identify it by your BMI score, so he suggested reaching for a tape measure.
Hassel said average-built women with a waistline (measuring at the belly button) greater than 35 inches, and men with waist bigger than 40-inches, should be concerned.
Next, Hassel said patients should ask their doctors if they have any of the following health risks:
- High blood pressure or treated blood pressure.
- Blood sugar greater than a hundred.
- HDL cholesterol less than 50 for a woman, or less than 40 for a man.
- Triglycerides greater than 150
"Regardless of your BMI, if patients have any one of those symptoms, plus a large waistline, they have a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart diseases, stroke and dementia," said Hassel.