Watching your waistline just got serious. Although being fatter around the middle has previously been linked to greater risk of chronic disease, a large new study links extra abdominal circumference to increased risk of death - even if you're not otherwise overweight.
Researchers studied data on 48,500 men and 56,343 women ages 50 and older over a nine-year period. Even after adjusting for body mass index (BMI), the standard measure for overweight and obesity, very large waists (47" or larger in men, 42" or larger in women) were associated with roughly double the risk of dying.
But having a larger waistline was also linked to greater mortality risk across all BMI levels, including normal-weight men and women. For normal-BMI men, each additional 10 cm (3.9") of waistline boosted the likelihood of dying by 16% compared to men with bigger BMIs but svelter waists; for normal-weight women, an extra 10 cm increased risk 25%. Scientists noted that waist circumference is strongly correlated with fat tissue surrounding the organs in the abdomen, which is thought to be more dangerous than fat under the skin. Future health guidelines, they added, may need to focus more on waistlines. - Archives of Internal Medicine
Big bellies spell 42%-44% bigger heart-attack risk.
Reprinted from The Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter (March 2007)
Dr. Rosenberg's Comments: Abdominal fat is not just some mushy stuff sitting there. It is metabolically active tissue.