Using waist measurements together with body mass index may better predict a teenager’s cardiovascular risk than using B.M.I. alone, a new study finds.
Pediatricians and medical groups routinely use B.M.I. as a measure of unhealthy weight in children. But the index, calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by the square of one’s height in meters, cannot differentiate between fatty and lean tissue. So an athletic, muscular teen could be classified as overweight or obese using B.M.I. alone.
Some researchers have proposed using waist circumference percentile — or a similar measure, waist-to-height ratio — as a better gauge of health. But the new study, published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found that neither measurement alone was sufficient.
In the study, Dr. Brian W. McCrindle and colleagues at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto gathered detailed data on more than 4,000 14- and 15-year-olds. Those with a B.M.I. in the 85th to 95th percentile for their age were classified as overweight, while those in the 95th percentile or above were described as obese.