BMI versus the String Test

String test is gaining more traction in determining your chances of survival

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – If you want to increase your odds of living a long healthy life you might want to step off the scale and pull out a piece of string.  The string test is gaining more traction in determining your chances of survival.  A doctor weighs in to see how it works and if it's an accurate gauge.

Photojournalist Tom Stallings was brave enough to put his waist to the test. Dr. Rao with Memorial Hospital says that Tom is a good example of an apple shape because most of his excess weight is in the middle.

"Visceral fat that covers your organs makes your body work harder," says Rao.

The traditional BMI test doesn't measure that risk. It uses your height and weight to come up with a number that puts you in a category off being normal, overweight, or obese. But in many cases those numbers don't tell the whole story.

"A third of people were missed with the BMI chart but the string test picked them right up," says Rao.

Normal on the BMI chart but at risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension and potentially stroke.

Dr. Rao pointed out a recent study that found patients who carry their weight in the middle are two times more likely to die early and 2.7 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Here's how you check, you take the string, measure from head to toe, cut it half and find your waist.

"Some people have a hard time identifying where is your waist.  You take the lowest rib and your hip bone and go right in between at the lowest point and then you take that string should wrap around your waist comfortably," says Rao.

There's another group who might not pass the BMI test but the string test.  People with more of their weight in the lower part of their body.

"I think you would be a good example with the string test.  You pass but with BMI chart it shows you as being overweight and I don't think you are," says Rao.

So we checked and it fits pretty good.  It's another way to determine what kind of lifestyle changes you can make to be healthier.

"In order to lose weight diet is number one.  Yes we talk about exercise but the things you put in your mouth are of the utmost importance," says Rao.

People with pear bodies are less at risk for those conditions but Doctor Rao says we should all take steps to maintain a healthy weight. She suggests cutting back on sugar and carbs and eating more vegetables and protein.  In fact I know it's tough but she says in order to really take off weight you should consume about 50 grams of carbs a day.

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