A new study has warned that people with coronary artery disease and expanded waistlines are at more than twice the risk of dying, including those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) in the normal range.
These conclusions result from a large study by the Mayo Clinic, involving almost 16,000 people from five countries around the world.
Authors Dian Griesel, and Tom Griesel claim the problem is deeper. It is not just the fat you see. "Even more dangerous is the visceral belly fat that resides in the abdominal cavity and surrounds the internal organs. This internal fat actually makes up a large proportion of the waist measurement," said the Griesels.
Visceral fat is more metabolically active and can produce hormones and other substances that have a negative impact on your health including increasing the risk of serious health problems like heart disease; high blood pressure; stroke; type 2 diabetes; metabolic syndrome; some types of cancer; and sleep apnea.
Contrary to common thinking, BMI is not the best measurement for overall risk because many people with readings in the normal range still have dangerous levels of (hidden) visceral fat. BMI is just a measure of weight in proportion to height.
"Throw away your traditional scale," say the Griesels. "The only relevant measurement is your Body Fat Percentage. This can be easily calculated with a neck and waist measurement for men, and neck, waist and hip measurements for women."
Interestingly, even if you are not overweight, a waist measurement of over 33 inches, regardless of your weight, increases health risks.