There are dozens of ways to find out if you’re overweight, but new evidence suggests that the best way is to look at your hips and waist. Apparently, the amount of body fat stored around the abdomen, compared that stored on the hips, is a more accurate gauge of likely health risks than BMI (Body Mass Index). To check your fat distribution, simply divide your waist size by your hip size. This will give you your ratio. So if you have a 30-inch waist and 40-inch hip circumference, your ratio would be 0.75. But if you have a 41-inch waist and 39-inch hips, then it’s ratio of 1.05.
It’s clear that the lower ratio you have, the better off your health is likely to be. The risk of heart disease rises sharply for women with ratios above 0.8 and for men with ratios above 1.0.
Here’s a basic guide:
– Women whose waistlines are over 31.5 inches and men whose waists measure over 37 inches should watch their weight.
– Any more than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
(In one 2000 study, a high triglyceride level, along with a waist measurement of over 36 inches, meant a higher likelihood of heart problems for men.)
So, what do you do if you have too much fat around your waist, but just can’t stop eating? Maybe a remote desert tribe in Africa have the answer…
How the world’s ugliest plant can reduce hunger
The world has many ugly, menacing looking plants, but this one wins first prize. The Hoodia Cactus sprouts about 10 spiky tentacles the size of long cucumbers. Inside is an unpleasant-tasting, fleshy substance. The thing is, this plant could hold the answer to the problem of over-eating.
The San Bushmen of the Kalahari, one of the world’s oldest tribes, have eaten the Hoodia for thousands of years to stave off hunger during long hunting trips. When South African scientists tested it, they discovered a previously unknown molecule – now called P 57. Turns out, it’s a natural appetite suppressant. One BBC reporter was brave enough to travel out to the desert and meet this prickly monster face to face. She ate about a couple of mouthfuls of Hoodia at about six in the evening, then began the long haul back to Capetown. She went to bed around midnight without eating and skipped breakfast the next day. She managed some lunch without really feeling hungry. Her full appetite gradually returned that evening, 24 hours after eating Hoodia.
And this doesn’t seem to be a one off reaction.
When the first human clinical trial was conducted, a morbidly obese group of people were told to watch television, read and eat. Half were given Hoodia, half a placebo. Fifteen days later, the Hoodia group had reduced their calorie intake by 1000 a day!
How P57 works
There is a part of your brain, the hypothalamus. Within that mid-brain there are nerve cells that sense glucose sugar. When you eat, blood sugar goes up because of the food, these cells start firing and now you are full. What the natural cactus Hoodia seems to contain is a molecule that is about 10,000 times as active as glucose. It goes to the mid-brain and actually makes those nerve cells fire as if you were full. But you have not eaten. Nor do you want to.
So if I don’t get a padlock for the fridge door, I should try Hoodia. But if you’re tempted to take it, make sure you consult your doctor first.