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Waist not weight key to life span
May 10, 2017, 11:49 am

Large waist size, rather than increased weight, could determine your risk of an early death says a new study. Additionally, the increased risk posed by having a larger waistline occurs even if a person's body-mass index (BMI) indicates a healthy weight.

The BMI is a rough estimate of a person's body fat based on height and weight measurements. Doctors consider normal BMI to be in the range of 18.5 to 24.9, while overweight is 25 to 29.9, and obese is 30 and over.

People who carry extra weight around the middle — also called ‘central obesity’ — but have a normal BMI have a 22 percent higher risk of death than people whose fat is stored elsewhere in their bodies, the study found. In folks with a BMI that indicates obesity, the risk of early death was 13 percent higher for those with central obesity.

The study also found that a large waistline is an even greater hazard for heart health. The risk of heart-related death is 25 percent higher for someone with central obesity and a normal BMI. It is 26 percent greater for those with an overweight BMI and extra waist girth, and 56 higher percent for an obese BMI and central obesity, the study found.

Waist-to-hip ratio, calculated by dividing your waist measurement by hip measurement, is another scale used to determine if there is excess belly fat. If a person’s waist-to-hip ratio is over 0.85 (for females), or over 0.90 (for males), then it is cause for concern and they should look at ways of altering their lifestyle to lose or reduce their abdominal size, said the researchers.

For this latest study, researchers looked at almost 43,000 participants in the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey. Each person's BMI and waist-to-hip ratio was compared against their health history during 10 years of follow-up. Researchers found that the risk posed by a big belly was the same for men and women. However, men are more likely to store fat around their middle, which could mean they are more likely to develop this risk, while women tend to store fat in their hips and buttocks.

Excessive fat around the waist has been linked to insulin resistance, high cholesterol and increased inflammation, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Unfortunately, weight loss efforts will not necessarily eliminate your spare tire. Weight loss tends to occur evenly across the entire body, and cannot be directed toward any exact store of fat. The researchers advised people with belly fat to take steps to improve their health, by eating right, exercising and cutting out other risk factors like smoking or drinking.

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