Informations about indices

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Body mass index

The body mass index (BMI) or Quetelet index is a value derived from the mass (weight) and height of an individual. The BMI is defined as the body mass divided by the square of the body height, and is universally expressed in units of kg/m2, resulting from mass in kilograms and height in metres.


The medical establishment and statistical community have both highlighted the limitations of BMI.

Mathematician Keith Devlin and the restaurant industry association Center for Consumer Freedom argue that the error in the BMI is significant and so pervasive that it is not generally useful in evaluation of health. University of Chicago political science professor Eric Oliver says BMI is a convenient but inaccurate measure of weight, forced onto the populace, and should be revised.

Body fat percentage

The body fat percentage is a measure of fitness level, since it is the only body measurement which directly calculates a person's relative body composition without regard to height or weight. The widely used body mass index (BMI) provides a measure that allows the comparison of the adiposity of individuals of different heights and weights. While BMI largely increases as adiposity increases, due to differences in body composition, other indicators of body fat give more accurate results; for example, individuals with greater muscle mass or larger bones will have higher BMIs. As such, BMI is a useful indicator of overall fitness for a large group of people, but a poor tool for determining the health of an individual.

Waist-hip ratio

Waist-hip ratio or waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips. This is calculated as waist measurement divided by hip measurement (W ÷ H). For example, a person with a 25″ (64 cm) waist and 38″ (97 cm) hips has a waist–hip ratio of about 0.66.

The WHR has been used as an indicator or measure of health, and the risk of developing serious health conditions. WHR correlates with fertility (with different optimal values for males and females).

Waist-to-height ratio

A person's waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), also called waist-to-stature ratio (WSR), is defined as their waist circumference divided by their height, both measured in the same units. The WHtR is a measure of the distribution of body fat. Higher values of WHtR indicate higher risk of obesity-related cardiovascular diseases; it is correlated with abdominal obesity.

A 2010 study that followed 11,000 subjects for up to eight years concluded that WHtR is a much better measure of the risk of heart attack, stroke or death than the more widely used body mass index. However, a 2011 study that followed 60,000 participants for up to 13 years found that waist-hip ratio (when adjusted for BMI) was a better predictor of ischaemic heart disease mortality than WHtR.

Body Shape Index

Body Shape Index (BSI) is a metric for assessing the health implications of a given human body height, mass and waist circumference. The inclusion of the latter is believed to make the BSI a better indicator of the health risks from excess weight than the standard Body Mass Index.

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