Bulging waistline could indicate how your heart is
Mar 19, 2006 - 8:18:37 PM

Excess fat around the waist is harmful and could be an indicator of the state of your heart, say scientists in a new study of how body weight affects the heart.

It has long been known that the more overweight a person is the higher the risk is of having a heart attack. Traditionally this risk is measured using the body mass index, which involves dividing weight by height.

But in the first large-scale study of its kind, Canadian scientists who analysed the waist sizes of 168,000 men and women worldwide say excess fat around the middle is more harmful than weight gain on the legs and hips, reported the online edition of Daily Mail.

This is because fat cells around the stomach are the most dangerous of all, pumping out chemicals that can damage the insulin system, they said.

The scientists found that in the men studied, the risk of heart disease increased by between 21 and 40 percent for every five-and-a-half inches (14 cm) extra added to their waist size.

For women, the same increase in heart disease risk occurred for every five-and-a-three fourth inches (14.9 cm) growth in waistline.

The risk was found to be the same across the populations of the 63 countries studied, despite the wide variance in waist sizes.

"After 20 years of research we've learned that it's not how fat you are that determines your risk to obesity, but where the excess fat is located," Jean-Pierre Despres, director of cardiology research at University Laval in Quebec, said.

"Your risk of having a heart attack has nothing to do with your body mass index because it does not take into account the distribution of fat on the body.

"A bulging belly is a better indicator of heart disease than overall body mass," the scientist said.

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