Thick calves are a good sign of health, and this is not a song-and-dance statement. Having an increased waistline has long been recognised as a risk factor for stroke, heart attack and diabetes but latest evidence in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that, even more important, the measurement around the hip has a more significant impact than measuring the waist alone.
Previously, the Body Mass Index (or BMI) was considered the gold standard for measuring obesity. You can calculate your BMI here. The problem was that this figure becomes irrelevant when it is used in body builders or in the elderly (when muscle mass is much reduced), giving false readings on actual obesity.
Recent research, as revealed by the above study, now says that, by measuring the Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR), defined as the waist size at the navel divided by the widest size at the hips, a more accurate prediction of a person’s risk of death can be obtained. Calculate your WHR here. Men should not have a figure higher than 0.95 while women not more than 0.8.
The researchers discovered that if the ratio increased by as little as 0.1 even, the risk of death increased by 34%(men) and 24%(women).
Even among people of normal weight, men with big bellies had more than twice the death rate of the slimmest! So it looks like where the fat is distributed plays a more important role than the actual amount of fat. In other words, its not how fat you are; its how you are fat.