- New research says big-bottomed women are healthier than apple-shaped ones
- Conclusion could mean end of body mass index (BMI)
- Method is flawed as it doesn’t take into account differing heights
Fiona Macrae Science Correspondent
22:59, 11 May 2012
23:01, 11 May 2012
Fruity: Women with pear-shaped figures like Kate Winslet are healthier than their apple-shaped counterparts, according to research
It may not help when it comes to squeezing into skinny jeans or slipping on a slinky dress.
But it seems having a big bottom could offer some benefits – at least when it comes to health.
Women with pear-shaped figures are healthier than their apple-shaped counterparts, according to research.
Or in other words, those with a
defined waist and shapely derriere like Kate Winslet are better off than
those with a small bottom who are plumper around the middle.
Former government adviser Dr Margaret
Ashwell worked with a nutritionist from Oxford Brookes University to
review data from dozens of studies on the best method of judging
someone’s health from their vital statistics.
And their conclusion could mean the
end of the body mass index, or BMI – a mathematical formula linking
weight to height which has been in widespread use since the early 1970s.
To calculate your BMI, you measure your waist around its narrowest point and divide the result by your height.
A result of between 0.4 and 0.5 is considered healthy, while below 0.4 is classed as underweight and above 0.6 is dangerously overweight.
However, this formula fails to distinguish between fat and muscle, meaning some athletes are classed as obese.
An alternative measure of health is waist circumference, which is considered important because fat that gathers around the stomach is known to be particularly harmful.
Not only does it produce more dangerous chemicals, but it is also closer to the body’s vital organs than flab on the bottom, hips and thighs.
But this method is flawed too, as it doesn’t take into account differing heights. So the solution, says Dr Ashwell, who runs independent consultancy Ashwell Associates, is to look at waist measurement in comparison to height.
Healthy prospects: With their well-defined derrieres Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez are also considered a healthy pear-shape
Her analysis of 31 studies involving 300,000 men and women from around the world showed doing this to be a better predictor of health than either BMI or waist circumference.
As a rule of thumb, we should aim to keep our waist circumference measurement to under half that of our height.
So, a woman who is 5ft 4in should try to keep her waist below 32in and a man who is 5ft 10in shouldn’t let his waistband exceed 35in.
Any bigger than this and their shape starts to turn from pear-like to apple-like.
Using waist to height as a measure should pick up potential illnesses quicker than BMI and is also suitable for all ages and all ethnicities. Dr
Ashwell told the European Congress on Obesity in Lyon: ‘Keeping your waist circumference to less than half of your height could help increase life expectancy for every person in the world.
Streamline: Among the famous apple shapes with less-defined waists are actresses Catherine Zeta-Jones and Elizabeth Hurley
‘You can measure it in centimetres, inches, miles, anything you want. It’s super-simple.’
Pear-shaped celebrities, who are wider below the waist, include actress Kate Winslet and singers Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce.
Among the apples, with less-defined waists, are singer Adele, model Elizabeth Hurley and actress Catherine Zeta-Jones. Dr Ashwell’s system of measuring has another advantage.
Those people whose waist is bigger than it should be can take heart.
Fat from around the tummy is usually the first to go when we start a diet.