London - It may not help when it comes to squeezing into skinny jeans or slipping on a slinky dress. But it seems having a big bottom could offer some benefits – at least when it comes to health.

Women with pear-shaped figures are healthier than their apple-shaped counterparts, according to research.

Those with a defined waist and shapely derrière, like Kate Winslet, are better off than those with a small bottom who are plumper around the middle.

Former British government adviser Dr Margaret Ashwell worked with a nutritionist from Oxford Brookes University to review data from dozens of studies on the best method of judging someone’s health from their vital statistics.

And their conclusion could mean the end of the body mass index, or BMI – a mathematical formula linking weight to height that has been in widespread use since the early 1970s.

To calculate your BMI, you take your height and square the number - then divide your weight in pounds by the second figure.

However, this formula fails to distinguish between fat and muscle, meaning that some athletes are classed as obese.

An alternative measure of health is waist circumference, which is considered important because fat that gathers around the stomach is known to be particularly harmful.

Not only does it produce more dangerous chemicals, but it is also closer to the body’s vital organs than flab on the bottom, hips and thighs.

But this method doesn’t take into account differing heights.

So the solution, says Ashwell, is to look at waist measurement in comparison to height.

Her analysis of 31 studies involving 300 000 people showed doing this to be a better predictor of health than either BMI or waist circumference.

As a rule of thumb, we should aim to keep our waist circumference measurement to under half that of our height. Any bigger than this and the shape starts to turn from pear-like to apple-like.

Using waist to height as a measure should pick up potential illnesses quicker than BMI and is also suitable for all ages and all ethnicities. Ashwell told the European Congress on Obesity in Lyon: “Keeping your waist circumference to less than half of your height could help increase life expectancy for every person in the world. It’s super-simple.”

Pear-shaped celebrities include Winslet and singers Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé. Among the apples, with less-defined waists, are singer Adele, model Elizabeth Hurley and actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.

But those people whose waist is bigger than it should be can take heart. Fat from around the tummy is usually the first to go when we start a diet. – Daily Mail