Updated NICE draft guideline encourages adults with a BMI below 35 kg/m² to measure their own waist-to-height ratio

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People are being encouraged to keep their waist measurement to less than half their height to reduce the risk of potential health problems, according to recommendations in an updated NICE draft guideline.

NICE added the waist-to-height ratio to its draft guideline after looking at evidence from several studies which showed that, alongside body mass index (BMI), it could be used to assess and predict weight-related conditions in all ethnicities and sexes.

Using the waist-to-height ratio in conjunction with BMI can help to provide a practical estimate of central adiposity. This can help to assess and predict health risks, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease.

A ‘simple and effective’ way of measuring weight

Dr Paul Chrisp, Director for the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: ‘Our updated draft guideline offers people a simple and effective way of measuring their weight so they can understand the factors that could impact on their health and take action to address them.

‘Our committee found that a clear benefit of using the waist-to-height ratio is that people can easily measure it themselves, interpret the results, and seek medical advice if they are at increased health risk.’

A consultation on the proposed recommendations is taking place until 11 May 2022.

Tackling the obesity crisis

This update comes after news that large businesses such as restaurants, takeaways, and cafes are required under new laws to display calorie information on menus and food labels.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity, and there is an estimated 13.6 million people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes; the new legislation aims to tackle the obesity crisis by ensuring people can make more informed, healthier choices.

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