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Experts believe tape beats BMI

Waist size is a better measurement than body mass index for assessing individuals’ risk, meaning that tape measures could replace weighing scales, say medical and reinsurance industry professionals.

Protection specialist Lifesearch believes protection application forms could soon be asking for waist measurement, with providers applying automatic loadings for customers with bigger waist sizes.

The current trend is for providers to apply automatic loadings at a BMI of around 33 compared with a healthy level of 18.5 to 25. But Royal College of GPs spokeswoman Dr Sarah Jarvis says abdominal circumference is a better measure of health risk than BMI.

Reinsurer RGA says BMI works against healthy muscular people as it is a simple ratio of height and weight.

The ABI still maintains that BMI is the most accurate way of establishing the classification of obesity.

RGA head of sales and marketing Jason Hurley says: “RGA agrees waist size is a better measurement than BMI. Logically, somebody who carries high level of fat around their waist is a higher risk than somebody with a high level of muscle on the upper body.”

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