Men and women who have a higher waist-to-hip ratio were found to be strongly associated to be at risk of heart attack than overall obesity, especially women are at a higher risk.
The research was published in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
In a study of nearly 500,000 adults (aged 40-69) from the United Kingdom, researchers found that while general obesity and obesity specifically around the abdomen each have profound harmful effects on heart attack risk in both sexes, women were more negatively impacted by higher waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio than men.
"Our findings support the notion that having proportionally more fat around the abdomen (a characteristic of the apple shape) appears to be more hazardous than more visceral fat which is generally stored around the hips (i.e., the pear shape)," said lead author Sanne Peters, Ph.D., Research Fellow in Epidemiology at the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Additional research on sex differences in obesity may yield insights into the biological mechanisms and could inform sex-specific interventions to treat and halt the obesity epidemic.
According to statistics in the AHA's 2018 Statistical Update, 40 percent of American women age 20 and older and 35 percent of men were considered obese in 2013-14 national surveys.
Being obese puts you at a higher risk for health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain cancers.