TODAY   |  January 30, 2014

Is your waist circumference healthy?

Women’s Health contributor Dr. Keri Peterson breaks down for TODAY the numbers behind your Body Mass Index, respiration rate, waist circumference, and what it all means.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> bmi, waste circumference, salt intake. there are a lot of numbers you need to know to stay health you. good morning. these numbers can be confusing. you selected five we should know about. you selected the number 25 . this pertains to men and women.

>> this is your body mass index that you should be below. this is an indication between your weight and height. it gives doctors some sense about whether you're prone to illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure . if you're above 25, you're overweight, over 30 you're obese.

>> how do i find bmi?

>> because it's a ratio and high squared, it's easier to go online and do a weight calculator. men and women are calculated identically. but men are more muscular so their numbers are a little higher. the ill health effects are equivalent for both sexes above 25.

>> next one is 16. and this has to do -- this is for men and women, has to do with respiration rate.

>> this is the number of breaths a minute you take. the average is 10 to 18, around 16. if you exercise, of course it's going to go up naturally. this is whether you're at rest. if it's elevated when you're at rest, it could be a sign you're stressed or anxious or that you have a fever and are dehydrated, you have an infection or lung disease . if it's too low, could mean you're having some alcohol or some pain killers .

>> how do you get an accurate measurement?

>> it's so hard to do it on yourself. when you try to, you breathe faster. so nurses in the hospital pretend they're taking their pulse and they instead look at their chest rise and fall .

>> 40 and 35. this is about waist circumference.

>> for men it should be under 40, for men it should be under 35. you want to do it above your hipbone above your belly button. it's another reliable indicator of your fat levels. it's in particular regarding your visceral fat , abdominal fat . it leads to diabetes and high blood pressure . it produces inflammatory chemicals and prevents you from responding to appetite suppressing hormones, leptin.

>> this number, 6, it's applies to the added grams of sugar a day.

>> fruit and milk have innate sugar in it. this is what's added during processing. females should not have more than 6 teaspoons a day, about 100 calories and for men no more than 9 teaspoons a day, about 150 calories. use fresh fruit and use spices like cinnamon or all-spice to flavor your food.

>> how do i find it?

>> look at the grams of sugar.

>> 39 grams of sugar?

>> you should limit women to 25 grams, men to 27.

>> milligrams of salt here.

>> it should be under 1,500 for people over 51, african-americans, people with diabetes, hype blood pressure or kidney disease . for everyone else, it can be under 2,300. but ideally if we can do it, we should all go under 1,500. if this country all dropped their salt intake to under 1,500, the number of people that have high blood pressure would drop by 26%.

>> and 1,500 milligrams to put it in layman's terms for people who aren't good at figuring it out, what are we talking about?

>> you'd have to look at the back of the label. it varies so much. even from one brand of chicken soup to another can carry from 200 milligrams to 800 milligrams milligrams. the average person takes in 3,400 a day. we have to do a better job of this. use spices instead, fresh herbs.

>> maybe super bowl sunday is