BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7158.608 (Published 29 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:608

Waist:hip ratio is said to be the key determinant of sexual attractiveness in women, and 0.7 the lucky number most likely to attract a mate. A letter in the Lancet reports, however, that straightforward body mass index is the measurement to worry about (1998;352:548). Forty male students rated photographs of women for attractiveness. Their scores correlated closely with body mass index, not with waist:hip ratio. The authors speculate that body mass index is a better all round indicator of health and fertility.

Urging women to take up walking to improve fitness and general health seems to have a long lasting impact, at least in the context of a randomised trial (Archives of Internal Medicine1998;158:1695-701). Women randomised to a “walking intervention” were still walking more than controls 10 years later. There was also a trend towards fewer hospitalisations and falls in this group.

Once a hypochondriac always a hypochondriac, according to a long term follow up study of hypochondriac patients in Archives of General Psychiatry(1998;55:737-44). Two thirds of patients still met established diagnostic criteria 4-5 years after recruitment, although many had substantial improvements in their symptoms. The authors conclude that hypochondriacs suffer social impairment and personal distress over a prolonged period. …

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