Researchers have found a significant link between larger waist circumference and risk of death. The study has found that black women are equally at risk.
"The risk of death increased incrementally with rising body mass index (BMI). Once women were above normal weight, they had an increased risk of death," said the study's senior author Dr. Julie Palmer, a professor of epidemiology at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University.
"Independent of BMI, women who had a higher waist circumference had an increased risk of death. And, this finding was primarily in normal-weight women," she added.
Palmer and her colleagues analyzed data from the Black Women's Health Study, a national sample of almost 52,000 black women in America.
The study subjects were between the ages of 21 and 69 when they enrolled in the study, and none had a history of cancer or heart disease.
The study began in 1995 and continued through 2008. The women were contacted every two years during the study.
The researchers found that for women with a BMI of 25 to 27.4, the risk of death was 12 percent higher than for women with a normal BMI. With a BMI of 27.5 to 29.9, nonsmoking black women had a 31 percent increased risk of death.
After adjusting for BMI, the researchers found that women with waists between 40 and 47 inches had a 40 percent higher risk of death than did women whose waists were 26 to 27 inches.
The study is published in the Sept. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.