The latest study on belly fat is considered to be one of the largest ever done. And what the researchers found was alarming: People with the biggest waistlines have twice the risk of dying over the next 10 years as compared to people with the smallest stomachs.
The most alarming part is that the concern has just as much to do with the location of the fat being in your belly as being overweight. That’s because a bigger waist carries a greater risk of death even if your weight is “normal” as dictated by the body mass index, or BMI, a standards of weight and height.
“Even if you haven’t had a noticeable weight gain, if you notice your waist size increasing that’s an important sign,” said lead author Eric Jacobs of the American Cancer Society. “It’s time to eat better and start exercising more.”
Waist size has also been linked to dementia, heart disease, asthma and breast cancer. But not all doctors are convinced that belly fat alone is deadly.
Dr. Samuel Klein, an obesity expert at Washington University in St. Louis, is skeptical. Klein, not associated with the study, says that extra belly fat may be a symptom of a separate factor that creates both large stomachs and poor health.
Doctors recommend that men should have a waist circumference of no more than 40 inches, while women need to be below 35 inches to minimize risk.