Older adults who are carrying extra inches around the waist are at an increased risk of dying compared to people with normal waist size, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Men and women with the biggest waist circumference had twice the risk of dying over a ten-year period compared with people with the smallest tummies. Surprisingly, a bigger waist is associated with a greater risk of death even for people whose weight is considered normal when measured by body mass index (BMI).
It’s estimated that more than half of older men and more than 70% of older women have a waist size that is bigger than recommended. In fact, the average waist line in the U.S. has been increasing by about one inch per decade since the 1960s. Other research has linked waist size to asthma, breast cancer, heart disease, and even dementia. One explanation for this may be that belly fat secretes proteins and hormones that contribute to inflammation.
For people who are looking for ways to trim their waist lines, eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity are the keys to getting rid of belly fat.
Reference: Arch Intern Med 2010; 170(15): 1293-1301