The secret to a long life is having a waistline no larger than half your height, scientists claim.
A study by Cass Business School at City University in London, based on two decades of medical research, said a waist to height ratio of 80 per cent or more could reduce life expectancy by up to 20 years.
I don’t say that they’re right, only that it actually sounds sensible whereas we all know the problems with BMI:
Dr Ashwell said the average 30-year-old, 5ft 10in tall man should have a waist of no more than 35in. This would put him in the healthy category.
If his waist expanded to 42in or 60 per cent of his height, he risked losing 1.7 years of life and if it increased to 56in he could die 20.2 years earlier.
An average 30-year-old, 5ft 4in tall woman risked dying 1.4 years earlier if she let her waist swell from half her height, 32in, to 60 per cent of her height, 38.4in.
If her waist increased to 51in, she could die 10.6 years earlier.
A 35 inch waist on a 5,10 tall man isn’t skinny at all (I am taller and smaller than that now and was only just over that 35 inches when I was told to lose a few stone, at perhaps 36 or 37 (never actually measured, but going by waist size of jeans, but of course they stretch etc) and never got to 39 or 40.).
So 42 is definitely porky for a man that height and 56 is simply fatty, fatty, fatty.
It’s not going to be perfect, of course. It’s still not going to be right for some barrel chested hooker or prop but it’s likely to be closer to reality for most of us.
Which leads me to something a little different. An old story about the cuiraisses (spelling? the chest armour they wear) of the Household Cavalry. Made several generations ago they now have terrible trouble finding lads who will actually fit them. They were made for farm boys who had spent a decade or more baling hay by hand etc, lifting cows with one hand to get the milking bucket underneath the teats (I’m not sure I have the exact details of farm life correct here). This generated yeoman lads who could ride, wanted to be soldiers, and who had 55 inch sorta chests.
These days outside a premiership scrum that sort of physique doesn’t really exist. So the much slimmer modern lads wobble around on top of those horses with rags and cloth stuffed into that armour in order to stop it slipping around (well, so I’ve heard, anyway).
My point being that any set of measurements of the modern population will be accurate for said modern population (at least possibly they will be accurate) but won’t be when looking back to populations of the past. Malnutrition meant that most to many in the past were stunted (think that WWI discovery about heights of troopers and officers) but also that hard physical labour led to very different body shapes among those with decent diets.
And finally a personal observation. When I first went to Russia I was amazed at how large everyone’s hands seemed to be. This is going to sound like a very stupid question but humour me. Is hand size something influenced by having to do physical labour when young? Or is it entirely genetic? I don’rt mean particularly finger length, but solidity, width I suppose. Either could be true (assuming that my observation of large Russian hands in the 1990s is anything other than a figment of my imagination). For the average urban Russian was still digging the dacha over the summer to feed the winter at that point, they weren’t that far from still being a nation of peasants in their food supplies (a statistic crossed my desk one day, a survey, saying that 60% of Russians, in 1992 this was, had never bought a potato, provisions coming from household farming). But it’s also true that in 1917-1921, Civil War time, delicate bone structures were taken as evidence of aristocratic background and could and did lead to people being shot.
Anyone actually know?