Measuring a person's body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference are good indicators of potential weight-related health risks, according to UK researchers.
BMI has been criticised by some doctors and nutritionists who have claimed that it is insufficient for gauging health and risk factors.
However, researchers from the Royal Free Hospital and University College Medical School in London argue that such measurements are "good indicators" of health risks.
"It is clear in our study that measures of body fat, such as body mass index and waist circumference, are good indicators of adverse health outcomes," the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Epidemiology, according to Reuters.
The team studied 4,252 British men between the ages of 60 and 79 and found that BMI, waist circumference and fat mass index were all closely related.
In addition, increases in these measurements were related to general poor health, as well as high blood pressure and low levels of 'good' cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
"Using these simple measures of adiposity should be encouraged to reduce the public health burden of obesity and overweight in the elderly, by the promotion of lifestyles that decrease the weight gain accompanying the ageing process," the authors concluded.
Severely overweight patients who have failed to lose weight through diet and exercise programmes could consider obesity surgery, which has been shown to also help reduce obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart complications.