A big belly, despite BMI, is linked to poor health

Even if you have a healthy body mass index, a large belly could indicate that you'll die younger, according to new research from the Mayo Clinic.

The study supports previous research that suggests a strong link between waist circumference and the risk for serious health complications due to metabolic syndrome or other conditions.

Using data from 11 separate cohort studies that included more than 600,000 people worldwide, the researchers found that larger waist circumference was associated with conditions like heart disease, cancer, and respiratory problems - even after accounting for body mass index, alcohol use, and smoking.

"BMI is not a perfect measure," said Dr. James Cerhan, lead author of the study and a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist. "It doesn't discriminate lean mass from fat mass, and it also doesn't say anything about where your weight is located. We worry about that because extra fat in your belly has a metabolic profile that is associated with diseases such as diabetes and heart disease."

Weight circumference predicts health risks

The study found that men with waists 43 inches or greater had a 50-percent higher mortality risk than men with a waist smaller than 35 inches. Women with a waist circumference over 37 inches had an 80-percent higher mortality risk than women with waists 27 inches or less. In general, mortality risk increased with every 2-inch waist circumference increase.

So while BMI is an important measurement of health, Cerhan says that physicians should also pay attention to expanding waistlines - and advise patients to lose weight accordingly.

"The primary goal should be preventing both a high BMI and a large waist circumference," he concluded. "For those patients who have a large waist, trimming down even a few inches - through exercise and diet - could have important health benefits."

Source: Science Daily

Photo credit: sattva/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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