Weight is closely linked to colon health and has been for quite some time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it affects everyone the same way.
New research shows that different weight measurements for women and men may be better predictors of colon health complications.
Body Mass Index, or BMI, has long been associated with colon health risk. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight. A person with a BMI of 25 is considered overweight; 30+ is obese.
BMI seems to be a relatively accurate predictor of colon health in men. This does not seem to be the case for women.
A better indicator for women may be the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), which is essentially a measurement of body fat in the midsection. However, it’s interesting to note that a slim person and an obese one can have the same waist-to-hip ratio.
To get a visual, an unhealthy waist-to-hip ratio resembles an apple. A healthier WHR would be a pear (smaller waist than hips).
The study, published in BMC Medicine, found that a higher BMI is dangerous for men. When BMI went from 25 to 30 in men, it led to a 23 percent higher risk for severe colon issues. The same increase was only tied to a 9 percent increase in women.
However, when WHR was taken, the same five-point increase was associated with a 25 percent higher risk of colon issues in women and only a 5 percent increase in men.
The findings suggest that body fat plays a role in colon health. However, the distribution may play a role in determining the risk between men and women.
It is unclear exactly how body fat content and distribution influence colon health. However, there are lifestyle habits that may concurrently contribute to both fat accumulation and an unhealthy colon.
For example, processed foods and those high in sugar and unhealthy fats contribute to weight gain and unhealthy gut bacteria. On the other hand, fiber-rich heart-healthy diets contribute to weight loss and are associated with better colon health.
Exercise is also closely associated with healthier colons and lower levels of body fat.
The takeaway here is to pay attention to total body fat and how it is distributed if you’re interested in colon health. Do your best to make healthy lifestyle choices to cut weight through the midsection.