Jessica Matthews, Exercise Scientist: Let’s discuss a few simple ways that you can assess your health risk at home using nothing more than a tape measure. So, for our purposes today, it’s actually recommended that you utilize a spring-loaded tape measure like this one you see here. Now, if you don’t have a spring-loaded tape measure at home, you can use one of these if you have that available. The first measurement we’re going to talk about is body mass index, also known as BMI. BMI describes the relationship between body weight and height, and since it cannot determine actual body composition, research has shown that this measurement can be somewhat limited in terms of its accuracy. For example, individuals who are extremely muscular would score high on a BMI chart, inaccurately categorizing those individuals as being overweight or obese. Studies indicate that compared to BMI, waist circumference is more accurate in regards to predicting cardiovascular disease risk. Waist circumference can be measured at the midpoint between the lowest rib and the iliac crest. Unsure what the iliac crest is? It essentially acts as the main hipbone. It can be felt by putting your hand at the lowest rib bones and simply sliding it down the abdomen until you reach the top of the pelvic region. Research has shown that waist circumference is effective in identifying cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk. Here is a table that shows the criteria for waist circumference in adults. For accuracy, it’s important that the measurement is taken at the end of expiration, at the point when the diaphragm is in its neutral position. It’s also important to keep the tape measure snug, but not too tight that it presses into the subcutaneous layers. Another measurement that can be used, and research has shown to be the superior clinical measurement for predicting cardiovascular disease mortality, is the waist-to-hip ratio. For this assessment, the hip measurement should be taken at the greatest circumference of the buttocks. You’ll then find the waist-to-hip ratio by taking the waist measurement you completed earlier and divide it by the hip measurement. This table shows the waist-to-hip ratio norms. For the waist circumference and the waist-to-hip ratio, for accuracy, you want to ensure that you’re completing the measurement at the same landmark each time. It’s also helpful to complete multiple measurements at the same site, but to ensure that you allow at least 20 to 30 seconds between repeat measurements to allow the skin and subcutaneous tissue to return to its normal state. Research has shown that these measurements demonstrate a strong correlation between health, morbidity, and mortality. But it should be noted that they serve only as an estimation of body composition and fitness level. For a more three-dimensional view of the makeup of the body, especially if you have weight-loss goals, consider enlisting the help of an ACE-certified personal trainer who can provide additional assessments, such as skin-fold measurements, to more accurately assess your body composition. To find an ACE-certified trainer in your area, visit our website: www.acefitness.org/getfit. And we’ll see you next time.