Fat Around The Belly And Heart Disease Up Risk Of Death

There’s a new study that brings a warning… if you have heart disease and carry fat around the belly (even if you’re considered normal weight) you have a higher risk of death than those who have fat in other areas of the body.

Believe it or not, that beer belly (or the female muffin top) is considered as dangerous a risk as smoking 20 cigarettes a day or suffering from extremely high cholesterol. The risk is highest for men.

Why is belly fat so bad?

Science knows that visceral (also known as belly) fat is more metabolically active, it produces inflammatory chemicals and releases free fatty acids, brings changes in blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Even more interesting, those who have fat in other areas of the body, like the butt and legs, don’t carry the higher risk of death.

The research team carefully analyzed data from five different studies that had been conducted in various countries… in the United States, France, Denmark and Korea. They involved, in total, almost 16,000 subjects (average age 66) who had coronary artery disease, and provided a diverse, real world population to study.

About 40% of those in the study were normal weight, with BMIs under 25.0. In these “normal” weight subjects, the risks started to go up at waist sizes as low as 33 inches for men, 31 inches for women who stored fat around the middle compared to the hips.

The results are not comforting – even after adjusting for the influence of other factors (age, gender, smoking, diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure) the risk of dying was nearly double for those who had heart disease combined with central obesity, determined by measuring waist circumference and looking at the ratio between waist-to-hip.

So even if the BMI number looks good, the waist measurement is fine, it’s the ratio of waist-to-hip measurements that can point up the problem. Something to be aware of, for sure.

It seems clear that the fat at your waist matters more than your BMI in terms of death risk. The findings certainly discount the puzzling obesity paradox – a higher BMI with heart disease as having better survival odds than normal weight patients. Experts are coming to realize that BMI isn’t a good indicator of body fat, and tells doctors nothing about how fat might be distributed.

Taking the time to do a proper waist-to-hip measurement is a smart step, even if your body mass index falls into the normal weight range, that is, under 25.0. This way, someone at risk can be aware, and have the chance to react and make changes. Flattening that beer belly calls for hard work, diet changes and all over exercise… forget “spot reducing” but remember that this type of fat is the first to go once you put your mind to it.

There’s a growing amount of evidence that fat around the belly is dangerous. Not just to your body, but perhaps to your very life as well.