Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Study Shows Big Belly Decreases Lifespan
People who are large around the middle are significantly more likely to die at a younger age than those with slimmer waists regardless of their overall body weight, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the National Institute on Aging and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Researchers examined data from 90,757 women and 154,776 men between the ages of 51 and 72 who were taking part in the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons study. After nine years, those who were considered abdominally obese were 20 percent more likely to have died than those who were not abdominally obese. Likewise, the fifth of men with the largest waists were 22 percent more likely to have died than men with smaller waists. The statistics for women were similar.
According to the World Health Organization definitions used by the researchers, a woman with a waist circumference of 35 inches or more and a man with a waist circumference of 40 inches or more is considered abdominally obese.
The increased risk of death observed in the study was independent of ethnicity, smoking status or general health. More surprisingly, it was also independent of body mass index (BMI), the most frequently used to measure of obesity.
BMI is calculated based on a person's height weight, and high BMIs have been consistently linked to an increased risk of early death. But researchers say the the current study suggests that more than BMI needs to be taken into account when calculating a person's risk from obesity.
"People should not only look at their weight, but also consider their waist," lead researcher Annemarie Koster said.
Researchers are increasingly discovering that abdominal fat is particularly dangerous, and fat that collects around internal organs is even more so. The mechanisms by which this works, however, are not yet understood.