Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 13th 2014 Contents B36
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Two out of three Americans don t know what a
healthy body mass index (BMI) is, a new national
poll finds, despite the fact that knowing one s BMI
score, along with a few other numbers, can tell
people if they are at risk for a variety of health
Researchers at The Ohio State University surveyed
more than 2,000 adults from across the US and asked
them questions about BMI, for example, whether a
person with a BMI of 24 is underweight or obese,
or is normal weight.
Only 38 per cent of the respondents answered cor-
rectly, that a BMI of 24 is considered normal weight.
Sixty-two per cent of people either responded with
the wrong answer, or said they were not sure.
BMI is a number calculated from someone s weight
and height, and provides a reliable indicator of body
fatness and the risk for heart problems for most peo-
ple. However, BMI does not paint a complete picture
of health. For example, athletes with a lot of muscle
mass might have a BMI that puts them in the "over-
weight" category, even though they are generally very
So, in addition to BMI, people should know four
other numbers to get a good picture of their health:
their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar
levels and the circumference of their waist, the
"There really are five numbers everyone should
know when it comes to heart health," said Dr Martha
Gulati, director of preventive cardiology and women s
cardiovascular health at The Ohio State University
Wexner Medical Center. "Once you learn those num-
bers, they can not only tell you how healthy you are
today, but can help your doctor predict heart problems
in the future," she said.
Here are the five numbers everyone should know.
BMI compares someone s height to their weight.
It is calculated by dividing someone s weight (mea-
sured in kilogrammes) by the square of their height
(measured in metres). A BMI lower than 18.5 is under-
weight. Between 18.6 and 24.9 is considered normal.
A BMI of 25 through 29.9 is overweight, and 30 or
higher is considered obese.
"Knowing where you lie within that spectrum is
really important, because sometimes people will be
very accepting of their weight, thinking, Well, that
number sounds reasonable. But is it reasonable for
their height?" Gulati said.
Your waist circumference
Your waist size is important because it s an indicator
of your belly fat. People with a lot of this fat are at
increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The waist circumference at the level of belly button
is another helpful measure when estimating who is
at risk for heart disease. For women, waist circum-
ference should measure less than 35 inches (89 cen-
timetres), and for men, it should be less than 40
inches (102 cm).
High blood cholesterol can lead to heart disease
and stroke. Levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol should
be under 100 milligrammes per decilitre (mg/dL). A
healthy "total" cholesterol number is below 200
High levels of glucose in the blood can cause dia-
betes, which increases the risk for cardiovascular dis-
ease, and can lead to other problems, such as eye
disease, kidney disease and nerve damage. A healthy
blood sugar number is under 100 after not eating
for eight hours (fasting blood sugar).
Two numbers are used to measure
blood pressure---the systolic pressure,
when the heart beats, over the diastolic
pressure, when the heart relaxes
between beats. A normal blood pressure
is under 120/80 millimetres of mercury
(mmHg). About one-third of Americans
have high blood pressure, also called
Simple lifestyle changes, such as reduc-
ing sodium in the diet, quitting smoking,
and medication can help lower blood
Some numbers to know
about your heart's health
numbers can help
reduce the risk for
a variety of health
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
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