A SIMPLE test you can do at home will reveal if you have tipped the scales too far – and all you need is a piece of string.
Your results will give an idea if you are at risk of obesity related illnesses, such as heart disease or stroke.
Dr Margaret Ashwell demonstrated how to use the simple test on BBC’s The Truth About Obesity, first aired in May 2018.
She explained your waist measurement should be no more than half your height.
All you need to do is take a piece of string and cut it to the same length as your height.
Next you need to fold it in half, then wrap it around your waist.
If the string meets or overlaps then you are a healthy weight, but if you can’t make the ends meet then your visceral fat levels are too high.
Your visceral fat is the fat that sits around your vital organs in your abdomen.
Too much of it can lead to disease like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
“It’s a physical presence, it wraps around the heart, the liver, the pancreas and that raises the risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and [high] blood pressure,” Dr Ashwell said.
And according to Dr Atwell it is a more accurate way to see how healthy you are than your body mass index (BMI).
BMI is worked out solely by your height and weight, and can only tell you how much weight you have, rather than breaking it down into muscle and fat.
People with a “healthy” BMI can still carry too much visceral fat.
Dr Margaret said: “BMI doesn’t measure fat distribution. The best way of explaining it is think of a great hunky rugby player, they might have the same BMI as a chubby darts player.
“The rugby player might have more muscle than fat, where as a dart player is going to have more fat than muscle.”
But don’t worry if you do measure up as too fat, losing just five per cent of your body weight can drastically reduce your visceral fat.
“It’s back to the simple message of eat less and exercise more, but the good news is that it’s visceral fat that seems to disappear first,” Dr Ashwell added.
Carrying excess weight, even if it’s just a little, has been linked to type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and 11 different types of cancer.
World Cancer Research Fund estimates 25,000 cases of cancer could be prevented every year in the UK alone if everyone was a healthy weight.
And, according to the World Health Organisation, heart disease and stroke are the biggest killers globally – both of which are driven by obesity.
Obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years and, on current estimates, more than half the population could be obese by 2050, according to the NHS.
About 27 per cent of the UK population is considered obese and a further 34 per cent are considered overweight, according to Government statistics.
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