One more reason to lose fat in that big belly: A large waist seems to cause a higher risk of dying from any cause, says an August 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. This higher risk pertains to a nine-year period.
But this isn’t entirely surprising, because a large waist (excess belly fat) is tied closely to type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, a poor cholesterol profile and heart disease. Excess fat in the belly indicates excess fat surrounding the abdominal organs — never good news; this kind of fat is dangerous.
The study was conducted by Eric J. Jacobs, PhD, and colleagues at the American Cancer Society (Atlanta), and involved 56,343 women and 48,500 men. Waists of 47 inches or more in men, and 42 inches or more in women, were tied to about twice the risk of death during the time passage of the study.
That big waist was linked to a higher death risk spanning all categories of body mass index (e.g., normal weight, overweight and obese). Oddly, the association with death in women corresponded to a lower body mass index, and the study authors are not sure why.
The National Institutes of Health has guidelines regarding waist circumference, to identify risk of disease, but only for people who are classified as overweight or obese as far as body mass index. The National Institutes of Health urges weight loss for people with a body mass index of 30 or higher (obese).
However, the National Institutes of Health does not actually recommend a weight loss goal for people with abdominal obesity yet who have BMIs in the normal and overweight range — unless these individuals have two or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or merely the wish to lose some weight.
This sounds confusing, so I’ll clear it up. I’m a certified personal trainer. Body mass index (BMI), is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight. Normal weight is a value of 18.5 to 24.9; overweight is 25 to 29.9, and obese is 30 and above.
A person can have excessive abdominal fat (abdominal obesity) yet have a BMI in the overweight or even normal range.
Furthermore, BMI loses its accuracy when muscular people use this type of calculation; muscle weighs more than fat; a muscular 140 pound woman will look much slimmer than a same-height, 140 pound woman with a higher ratio of fat.
Because BMI uses only height and weight, the BMI result for a lean, “buff” person with a svelte waist may actually end up in the overweight category. For example, a man who’s 5-11, yet has a muscled physique, may weigh 200 pounds. This puts him in the overweight category for BMI (27.9), even though his body fat percentage may be exceptionally low.