Waistlines And The Risk Of Early Death

Posted Mon, 08/30/2010 - 10:36am by Fred Lee

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The news today is filled with information about the health problems associated with gaining too much weight. From diabetes to heart disease, the list of problems associated with obesity continues to grow.

Now, it appears that there may be a link between excessive fat around the belly and the risk of early death. According to a recent article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people with large waistlines can increase their risk of an early death due to any cause over a 9-year period.

Previous research has linked belly fat to a number of health situations, including elevated levels of inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease. This may be due to the fact that fat tissue the collects around the abdominal organs is believed to be more of a health hazard than fat that collects under the skin.

Reviewing health information on over 48,000 men and 56,000 women, all of whom were 50 years of age or older (median age of 69 and 67, respectively), researchers found that people with very large waists had about twice the risk of death than people with smaller waists. Very large waists were defined as being 47 inches (120cm) or larger in men and 42 inches (110cm) or larger in women.

The association between waist size and death held true after adjustments were made for body mass index (BMI) and other risk factors. In fact, large waists increased the likelihood of death regardless of whether a person was of normal weight, overweight, or obese. Amongst women, the association was strongest for women whose weight was normal.

Experts are not clear as to why there exists an association between waistlines and early death, but indicate that the findings are grounds for further inquiry. Furthermore, the results could affect public health policy where obesity standards are concerned.

Current guidelines indicate that waist circumference can be used as an indication of increased disease risk only in situations where people are overweight or obese as measured by BMI. They do not necessarily apply to individuals who only have excess abdominal fat, defined as a waist circumference of 34.6 inches (88cm) or more in women and 40 inches (102cm) or more in men, unless they have at least two other cardiovascular risk factors.

Until more information is obtained, it is advisable to speak with your physician with any questions or concerns. Maintaining a healthy body weight is advisable under any circumstances, and this can best be accomplished under the supervision of your doctor or a nutritional expert.

For more information about obesity, visit the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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