Sewing Tape: A Potential Public Health Tool for Determining BMI in Disadvantaged Populations

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DOI: 10.21522/TIJPH.2013.07.04.Art015

Authors : Idris Muhammad Yakubu, Philip Bigelow


The prevalence of obesity, a risk factor for non-communicable diseases, is on the increase globally. Body mass index is the most widely used measure of obesity worldwide. Measuring body mass index involves the use of stadiometer, weighing scale, and calculator, or expensive BMI machine. Such instruments may not be available to health professionals in certain areas of the world and so this research asks the question: “Can an ordinary sewing tape measure be used to measure body mass index?”

The aim of this study was to develop a regression equation for calculating body mass index from waist circumference and hip circumference. It used a secondary dataset consisting of 3013 participants of a survey of bank workers across the 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja. The sampling technique was census sampling. The data was collected using a stadiometer, weighing scale, calculator, and BMI machine, and analyzed with SPSS using multiple linear regression.

The participants’ mean body mass index was 26.99±4.89kg/m2, waist circumference 79.13±26.72m, and hip circumference 87.24±28.57cm. Multiple linear regression showed that both waist circumference and hip circumference were significant predictors of body mass index and correlated in 43.5% of cases. The formula for calculating body mass index from waist and hip circumferences was given as: BMI = (WC x 0.209) - (HC x 0.132) + 22.009.

This formula is a potential handy public health tool for measuring body mass in disadvantaged communities using an ordinary tailoring tape. Further studies should be conducted to improve on the formula.

Keywords: Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, Hip Circumference, Regression Formula, Tape Measure.


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