A new study from England suggests the size of your belly in relation to your hips may directly influence your risk for developing heart problems. People with a large waistline and relatively smaller hips (a “pot belly” shape) appear to be more likely to develop coronary disease than those who carry weight at both waist and hips or primarily in the hips.
Scientists followed the weight changes and body fat distribution of nearly 25,000 men and women (45 to 79 years old) for an average of nine years. Those who developed heart problems were more inclined to have acquired most of their weight in their midsections.
The research showed women with the highest waist to hip ratio were 91 percent more likely to develop heart disease than women with smaller waist to hip ratios. Men with the highest waist to hip ratios were 55 percent more likely to develop heart disease than their more slim counterparts.
The authors of the study conclude that measurements of “abdominal obesity were more consistently and strongly predictive of coronary heart disease than body mass index.” They believe that such simple and inexpensive measurements could to put to good use in assessing the risk of heart problems in healthy men and women.
Canoy, D. et al, 2007. “Body Fat Distribution and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Men and Women in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition in Norfolk Cohort,” Circulation. http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/116/25/2933
News Daily, 2007. “Waist-to-Hip Ratio Linked to Heart Risk.”
Southern Medical Center, 2007. “Waist-to-Hip Ratio May Better Predict Cardiovascular Risk Than Body Mass Index” press release.