Abdominal fat increases risk of heart diseases: research

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Washington Dec 11 (UNI) Buckle up to lose that fat on your belly as those extra pounds can put you at a greater risk of heart disease.

Abdominal obesity is a strong independent risk factor for heart disease, and using the waist-hip ratio rather than waist measurement alone is a better indicator of heart disease risk among men and women, new research suggests.

In the study, researchers also looked at whether the association between fat distribution and heart disease risk was independent of body mass index (BMI), which assesses body weight relative to height, as well as other heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the Science Daily reported today.

''The size of the hips seems to predict a protective effect, in other words, a big waist with comparably big hips does not appear to be as worrisome as a big waist with small hips,'' said Dr Dexter Canoy, lead author of the study from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

The research was based on 24,508 men and women ages 45 to 79.

They measured participants' weight, height, waist circumference, hip circumference and other heart disease risk factors from 1993 to 1997.

They then followed up with participants for an average 9.1 years.

During the follow-up, 1,708 men and 892 women developed coronary heart disease. When they divided the men and women into five groups, according to waist-hip ratio, researchers found that those with the highest waist-to-hip ratio had the highest heart disease risk.

''People whose abdominal fat puts them at higher risk for heart disease do not always appear overweight or obese,'' Dr Canoy said.

''However, the overriding message from this and other studies about heart disease risk is that, despite the different measures and risk estimates, the bottom line is that many of us need to lose excess weight. Doctors should start looking beyond weight, height, simple waist circumference and BMI to assess heart disease. A simple waist-hip ratio measurement is a strong predictor of heart disease.'' he added.

UNI

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