Wrist Measurements May Predict Heart Problems

A woman's arm and handForget waist circumference, as much simpler measurement may provide an indication of future heart disease risk is wrist size.

Research carried out at Sapienza University in Rome and led by Raffaella Buzzetti showed that wrist size showed a strong correlation with insulin resistance which is an indicator of possible health risks in the future, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

In children total body fat can often fluctuate rapidly, especially once puberty is reached, so waist size or BMI may not be the best indicator of possible health issues associated with weight gain. The researchers carried out a study to see if wrist circumference could be a better indicator of weight problems.

They measured total wrist circumference as well has bone size to ensure that the results were not confounded by some people having a larger bone structure.


The study looked at 477 children that were either overweight or obese (i.e. with a body mass index of over 25). Wrist size, bone size and blood tests were carried out.

The results of the test indicated that wrist size was up to 17 times more accurate in predicting insulin resistance than BMI. Children who were classed as still having a relatively healthy BMI were sometimes at an increased risk of developing insulin resistance (as determined by the blood tests) and these children were the ones with a larger wrist circumference.

Wrist measurement is a good indicator for athletic boys and young men as BMI cannot be used to increased muscle mass. Waist to hip ratio is often also inaccurate due to muscular growth, however, fat is still sometimes present as a result of a diet high in energy dense food such as junk food and sugar.

Neck Circumference Also A Health Indicator

This is not the first study to look at other body measurements to determine health. In 2008 scientific research revealed the neck circumference is also a good indicator of weight related health problems.

Research has shown that the thickness of ones neck may be a better indication of heart problems and risk that waist circumference. In an American study 3300 men and women, with an average age of 51, where examined by the Framlington Heart Study.

Results showed that even in subjects with a relatively healthy bodyweight, a larger than average neck represented increased risk. Those with more fat deposited around their necks had lower levels of the good cholesterol, HDL, which helps to draw bad cholesterol away from the heart and liver.

Fat deposits around the internal organs (known as visceral fat) are the greatest danger to health. Past research has shown that it is not the amount of fat a person carries that increases risk of ill health, but where it is deposited, and a larger than average neck could be an indication of increased fat deposits in the upper body, around the heart and liver.

So, what action can be taken to reduce this risk? Research has also shown that diet alone does not effective shift visceral fat as it is often the last type of fat to be broken down. The only really effective solution is to exercise, and the best exercise is in the form of intensive interval training.

Such training can include circuit training workouts and other full body workouts as well as HIIT workouts. Tabata and kettlebell workouts are popular at the moment, and both will effectively burn fat and build lean and healthy muscle.

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