Is your bathroom scale lying about whether your weight is healthy -- or a health threat? The obesity epidemic is bad enough, but along comes a study that indicates that the widely used, 200-year-old healthy-weight formula is underestimating the health risk for nearly half of all women and more than 20% of men whose body-fat levels are dangerously high. The good news is this research can help you live longer and younger.
The problem? You can be a normal weight according to your body mass index (BMI), but you might be toting around extra belly fat that the BMI doesn't take into account. BMI, which compares your weight to your height, can't distinguish between lean, sexy, healthy muscle and excess body fat -- especially belly fat, which raises your risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, worsening arthritis, dementia, and more.
Here are healthy body-fat percentages for women:
For men, healthy body-fat percentages are as follows:
For their BMI-bad-news study, the researchers at New York University School of Medicine used a full-body scan to measure body fat in 1,400 people, but you can do just as good a job if you just grab a tape measure and measure your waist. Waist size, it turns out, is a super-accurate way to measure risky belly fat. You may have some body fat on board if your waist measures 35 inches or more for women, or more than 39 inches for men.
How do you calculate BMI? Put a tape measure around you at the belly button level -- and suck in! The health risks that come with belly fat actually begin about 3 inches deeper than your un-sucked-in middle. If your waist size needs a trim, focus on strategies that build muscle. Lean body tissue burns calories 'round the clock, preventing or even reversing belly-fat expansion. Don't simply diet. Reducing calories reduces precious muscle mass, too. Instead, take these four simple steps to nudge your body composition back to a healthy BMI (none involve the words diet, calories, or weigh-in):
It may seem counterintuitive to think of food as one of the best ways to burn the fat around your middle, but it's true. Certain foods come packed with the nutrients you need to blast the fat around your belly and lose weight. Try... adding these belly fat burners to your diet: pickles, berries, bell peppers, yogurt and black beans. Interested in more ways to banish your belly fat, including Dr. Oz's wet food diet? Check out the questions below. More