People Are Taking The Belly Button Challenge To See If They Need To Lose Weight

A weird new trend is taking off on the Chinese version of Twitter, where people are posting photos of themselves reaching one arm behind their backs, around their waists, and toward their belly buttons to see if their fingers can touch their navels. (Go on, try it.)

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People are saying a "scientific study" from the U.S. suggests that people who pass the test have good bodies, while those who fail have to lose weight, reports the >Daily Mail. Of course everyone's jumping on board because the test is stupid-simple — and makes an awesome excuse for people who pass to skip the gym.

Experts are skeptical, mostly because this mysterious U.S. study doesn't seem to exist, after all — and because someone who has a "good" body according to this test could actually be incredibly unhealthy.

"If you can touch your belly button from behind your back, you could be in better shape than someone who can't — but you shouldn't have a false sense of security about your health. You might have a small waist and look healthy, but your blood work could show that you're just as unhealthy as someone who weighs 400 pounds," explains explains Charlie Seltzer, M.D., a weight-loss specialist based in Philadelphia.

But the trend isn't completely bogus when it come to assessing your health: It's based in part on waist circumference, a measure that health experts use to calculate your waist-to-hip circumference. The ratio works even better than body mass index (BMI) to estimate whether someone has an unhealthy amount of belly fat, according to Dr. Seltzer. While belly fat itself isn't a death sentence, it is a predictor of visceral fat (the kind that gets all up in your organs) and metabolic disease. Women who have smaller waists and larger hips tend to be in the clear.

Still, Dr. Seltzer isn't entirely sold on the belly button test: "If you can't do it, don't be completely freaked out," he says. Factors like short arms or poor shoulder flexibility could prevent healthy people from passing, which could encourage body dysmorphic disorder among people who are in perfectly good shape.

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If you're wondering whether you need to lose weight, your best bet is to ask your doctor, who can do blood work to determine whether you need to lose weight based on your risk of metabolic disease — which matters way more than whether you can touch your belly button.

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