Friday, October 25, 2013

Weight vs. Waist: My Talk on a Simple but Valuable Health Assessment

Below is a talk I recently gave in Phoenix about the ability of weight and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) to indicate your current health status. During the talk, I discuss how weight may or may not indicate how long a person will live, how effective weight and WHR are for predicting a future heart attack or diabetes, and how to measure WHR.

Here are a few points I didn't cover or misspoke about during the talk:
  • During the heart attack slide, I said the researchers split the participants up into different groups based on their weight and WHR. What I meant to say was the researchers split up the data a few times, once into fifths based on weight (heaviest 20%, second heaviest 20%, etc.), and then another time into fifths based on WHR. The rates of heart disease feature the comparison of the top group versus the bottom group.
  • On the same slide, I placed the asterisk on the 44% difference between the heaviest and lightest weight groups because the difference basically disappeared when the researchers controlled for WHR as an interfering factor (confounding variable). In other words, a larger WHR is a major reason why the research showed heavier people had a greater risk of a heart attack.
  • You can measure your WHR in centimeters or inches, as long as you use the same unit of measure for both spots. I prefer centimeters because they are smaller units and are the standard measure in just about every country outside the US.


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