Waist to height ratio (WHR) could accurately help to predict if a person is obese better than BMI. The measurement may help to figure out a person's risk of serious health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height is key to avoiding an increased risk of obesity related diseases, according to author Margaret Ashwell from Ashwell Associates, a scientific consultancy firm.
According to an analysis presented at the European Congress on Obesity, the simple measurement (waist divided by height) is equally fair to tall and short people so can be used across all countries and ethnic groups.
It is a much better predictor of risk than waist circumference on its own, which had already replaced body mass index in medical circles because it acts as a proxy for abdominal fat - a key predictor of heart disease.
Ashwell, a visiting researcher at Oxford Brookes University, said WHR should be considered by doctors as a one-size fits all screening tool.
"Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world," the Independent quoted her as saying.
The research analyzed data from 31 studies with 300,000 participants. It found WHR to be significantly better than waist circumference and BMI for predicting diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease in men and women from all ethnic groups.
The practical benefits of abiding by this advice can be seen in life expectancy calculations which have been done for the first time by researchers at Cass Business School at City University.
They estimate that a 30-year old non-smoking man could reduce his life expectancy by as much as 14 percent if his waist to height rations is 0.7 and by as much as a third if it is 0.8.