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People Are Taking This Simple Test to See If They Need to Lose Weight

Up until this past weekend, belly buttons were overlooked. They were just sort of… there.
Woman with flat belly buttoning jeans

Well, thanks to the Belly Button Challenge—which went viral on social media—that's no longer the case. For the past few days, people all around the world have been posting photos of themselves trying to reach one arm behind their back to touch their navel. (Go ahead, try it.) The challenge reportedly stems from a mysterious American study (that no one has actually been able to locate) that says those who can complete the challenge are healthy and fit and those who cannot need to lose weight.

A photo posted by Natalie Mitchell (@natmit628) on

However, if you can't reach your belly button, don't sweat it. According to Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder Isabel Smith Nutrition, the test is a bogus health assessment. "This test doesn't take into consideration weight, body composition or waist circumference, which are three key measures that can give a picture of weight status and, in some cases, an idea of overall health status. It has more to do with arm length and the flexibility of the shoulders, back and torso," says Smith, adding, "Anyone, regardless of weight, with flexible shoulders or long arms may be able to reach around and touch their belly button. The challenge shouldn't be used to determine if and how much weight someone should lose."

Smith says BMI and body composition measurements are more accurate ways to determine weight status.

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Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more