Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A mirror is an inseparable part of any house-hold the world over and if one does not use it at least once in a day, it must be a sign of renunciation of all that is materialistic, symbolizing an ascetic style of living. Self inspection before a mirror has many dimensions for men as well as women. The very shape of the body as reflected in the mirror can reveal lot of things, some desirable and others not liked much by many. Both men, women and children spend significant time before the mirror as a part of their routine sartorial activities to make themselves presentable in the public. In fact a mirror generates more self confidence amongst people regarding their personal appearance and facing the challenges ahead each day. If one has the inclination, mirror images can also reveal signs of decline in body conditions, provided the occasion is used for critical self appraisal.
One of the most prevalent epidemic to day is over weight and the consequent falling health conditions. A mirror is the best tool to monitor one's body development for taking appropriate changes in the living style involving diets and exercises. There are two types of over weight persons when it comes to appearance. One is pear-shaped while the other is apple shaped. When fat accumulates around the hip one gets the pear shape while those with fat in the upper part of the body assume apple shape. Gut fat or the visceral fat has been one of the critical parameters that served the purpose of assessing the heart conditions. Standard way of assessing risk factors for CVD has been to measure the waist line and Body Mass Index (BMI) of an individual which is determined as a ratio of weight to the square of height and BMI values less than 25 are considered healthy. 
Waist to hip ratio (WHR) is also related to risks associated with CVD. A healthy man is supposed to have a WHR value of 0.9 or less while for a healthy woman the value should be less than 0.7. Women with less than 0.7 WHR have optimum estrogen levels and are less vulnerable to diabetes, CVD and ovarian malignancy type of disorders. Men with less than 0.9 WHR are considered more fertile and less prone to prostate and testicular cancers. Top 20% of men with high WHR have 55% higher risk of CVD while top 20% of women in that category have 91% more risk for developing heart diseases. Modern dressing style involving jeans and pants invariably uses the belt which can reveal the extent of bulge caused by excess fat and expanding waist will naturally demand a longer belt or using the next notch on the belt, raising the alarm signal.
Recent reports linking CVD with neck fat highlight the possibility of using neck circumference (NC) as a tool to assess CVD risk. The sub-cutaneous adipose tissue around the neck appears to be closely linked to cholesterol levels in the blood and metabolic syndrome. Those wearing the neck-ties must be alive to the dangers of tighter neck-ties which is an indication of the increasing NC, calling for timely life style corrections.  For every 3 cm increase of NC, a reduction of 2.1-2.2 mg per dL of serum HDL cholesterol was noticed while blood sugar levels increased significantly in both men and women. People in general with more weight concentrated on the upper part of the body tend to be more vulnerable to CVD. Average NC is 34.2 cm for women and 40.5 cm in men but maintaining the levels at < 34 and < 37 respectively are ideal to keep away diseases like CVD and metabolic syndrome. 
Keeping handy a measuring tape to monitor neck circumference and WHR, a weighing scale to check body weight regularly and a mirror to trace the changes in the body shape, could be more rewarding than frequent visits to the family physicians!    

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