A new study suggests central obesity is more dangerous than overall obesity, despite the difference in body mass index (BMI).
We are used to a rhetoric targeting specifically obesity and the wide array of health conditions associated with a BMI over 30. And while scientific studies confirm the dangers posed by obesity, less attention has been given to fat deposits in specific body areas. The study published on Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine Journal suggests that central obesity is more dangerous than overall obesity.
Central obesity is the commonly known ‘spare tire’, ‘beer belly’, or ‘pot belly’. People with a normal BMI who also present central obesity are at far greater risk of health complications and higher mortality than people are overweight or obese. The findings are consistent for both men and women.
Doctor Francisco-Lopez Jimenez with the Mayo Clinic and his team conducted the study to assess the risks posed by central obesity. The data was retrieved from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Overall, the study included 15,000 U.S. citizens aged 18 to 90. The researchers were interested in studying the risk of premature death corroborated with BMI and the waist-hip ratio. Other factors were accounted for too.
The waist-hip ratio is also an indication of obesity, albeit central obesity. Measuring just one’s BMI isn’t sufficiently conclusive. However, taking the waist-hip ratio into account at the same time as the BMI offers a more complete perspective. According to World Health Organization guidelines, a waist-hip ratio higher than 0.9 for men and 0.85 for women is a clear indicator of central obesity. Fat is bulging in the midsection while the person may be at a normal weight.
After assessing all the factor, the researchers concluded that women with central obesity have a 32 percent higher risk of premature death due to cardiovascular disease. Men with central obesity have a 50 percent higher risk of premature death.
The study did not emphasize how belly fat is linked to cardiovascular disease. Nonetheless, the authors draw attention on the types of fat existing in the body. Just as cholesterol may be good or bad, some types of fat are more dangerous than others. In the midsection area there is visceral and subcutaneous fat. While the subcutaneous fat is present above the muscles, visceral fat is the one stored around the stomach, leading to swath of health issues. This is also the type of fat that ends up in the liver from where it increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
It is important that throughout our lives we exercise regularly, maintaining a healthy routine. Even if our BMI is under 25, which is considered normal weight, it might turn out that central obesity or fat deposits in other areas of the body will do more harm on the long-term. Preventive strategies are never too late.
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