This Morning’s Dr Zoe Williams has demonstrated how people can gain a rough idea of their BMI using a simple household item, amid the link between obesity and an increased risk of dying from Covid-19.
On today’s show with Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford, Dr Zoe explained that if people have a BMI (body mass index) of above 35, they have a 40 per cent increased risk of dying if they contract coronavirus.
The doctor added that if members of the public have a BMI above 40, which she said are deemed as having ‘severe obesity’, then they have around a 90 per cent increased risk of dying from the virus.
‘So it’s really important that people who are in that category who are now eligible in group six to get a vaccine have their vaccine,’ she said, with the government stipulating that those in priority group six include adults aged between 16 and 65 who are at higher risk.
Dr Zoe explained that while BMI is not a ‘perfect measure’ of someone’s health, it is a useful ‘screening test’, because people who have a high BMI ‘are carrying excess body fat in the dangerous areas, which is inside and around the organs’.
‘If you’re carrying excess body fat in the liver, in the kidneys, in the heart, it affects the ability of those organs to function properly,’ she said, adding that if a person has a BMI above 40, this can impact their lung capacity, which could cause a greater struggle if they catch Covid-19.
Dr Zoe outlined that while doctors may be aware if their patients have a high BMI, as they could have other health conditions such as diabetes or kidney issues, there are many people who may not be aware what their BMI is.
While they can calculate their BMI on the NHS website by entering their height and weight, if people aren’t sure what their measurements are, they can use a long piece of string to check whether they might fall into the obesity category.
Demonstrating the technique to Eamonn and Ruth, Dr Zoe took a long piece of string, which she used to measure from her head to the tip of her toes.
She then took the piece of string and folded it in half, before wrapping it around her body.
The medical professional explained that if the two ends of the string meet when wrapped around the waist, ‘then the chances that you have obesity are lower’.
‘But if it doesn’t, then it’s definitely worth getting some scales, checking your weight, checking your height to see if you do have an elevated BMI,’ she said.
Dr Zoe urged people who have a BMI above 40 to seek support from their GP.
She added that weight loss isn’t necessarily the answer for everyone, as BMI doesn’t measure other factors of peoples’ lives, such as their diet, sleeping cycle and how active they are.
The doctor also emphasised that obesity is ‘not a choice’, stating on Twitter: ‘No blame, no stigmatising, this is not about weight loss. It’s about “knowledge is power”.’
This Morning airs weekdays at 10am on ITV.