New research suggests normal-weight people who carry their fat at their waistlines may be at higher risk of death over the years than overweight or obese people whose fat is more concentrated on the hips and thighs.
Stomach fat has been linked to high cholesterol, inflammation, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. "If the waist is larger than your hips, you're at increased risk for disease," said Dr. Samuel Klein, an obesity specialist at Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis.
‘Scientists who looked at nutrition survey data concluded that people of normal weight with belly fat have a higher mortality risk than people who are obese. A pot belly can be a bad thing – even if you’re not considered overweight.’
If you've got a belly above 40 inches for men and 34 inches for women, this is obesity [even if your weight measurements seem normal].
For the study, a team led by Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., used data from a national survey to compare the risk of premature death among more than 15,000 adults. The mean follow-up time was 14 years.
In the study, 11 percent of men and 3 percent of women were normal weight but had an elevated waist-to-hip ratio. Surprisingly, they were at greater risk - for men, roughly twice the risk - than more pear-shaped overweight or obese people.
They concluded that normal-weight adults with mid-body obesity have the worst long-term survival compared with any group, regardless of BMI.
In fact, the researchers said, a person of normal weight with so-called "central obesity" had twice the mortality rate of people who are overweight or obese based on BMI only.