Belly Fat Doubles Death Risk
Increase in Death Risk Not Limited to Overweight, Obese
WebMD News Archive
Belly Fat Research continued...
- Men and women with the largest waists (more than 40 inches for men and 35
inches for women) had roughly double the risk of premature death as men and
women with the smallest waists (less than 34 inches for men and 28 for
- Each 2-inch increase in waist circumference was associated with close to a
17% increase in mortality in men and a 13% increase in women.
- Waist-to-hip ratio also strongly predicted mortality.
"The most important result of our study is the finding that not just
being overweight, but also the distribution of body fat, affects the risk of
premature death," Pischon says.
The findings come as no surprise to University of Michigan cardiologist and
research scientist Daniel Eitzman, MD.
Work by Eitzman and colleagues in mice found that belly fat -- also known as
visceral fat -- produces more inflammation than fat found in other areas of the
Inflammation is thought to play a key role in heart disease and a host of
other chronic diseases.
Eitzman tells WebMD that measurement of waist circumference or waist-to-hip
ratio are important for assessing the risk of inflammation-driven disease.
"Studies like this focus attention on the importance of measuring
visceral fat, which is not now routinely done in clinical practice," he
Are You an Apple or a Pear?
So how do you tell if you have more belly fat than is healthy?
- To measure your waist circumference, place a tape measure around your waist
at the smallest point, which is usually just above the navel. A waist size of
40 inches in men and 35 inches in women is generally considered to indicate
increased health risk.
- Waist-to-hip ratio is calculated by measuring your waist at the smallest
point and your hips at the widest point -- usually at the widest part of the
buttocks -- and dividing the waist measurement by the hip measurement. A
waist-to-hip ratio of greater than 0.9 for men and 0.8 for women is generally
considered high risk.