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A pot belly can be a bad thing, even if you’re not considered overweight.
New research suggests normal-weight people who carry their fat at their waistlines may be at higher risk of death over the years than overweight or obese people whose fat is more concentrated on the hips and thighs.
Monday’s study signals the distribution of fat matters whatever the scale says.
“If the waist is larger than your hips, you’re at increased risk for disease,” said Dr. Samuel Klein, an obesity specialist at Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis, who wasn’t involved in the new research.
It also has implications for advising patients whose body mass index or BMI, the standard measure for weight and height, puts them in the normal range despite a belly bulge.
“We see this with patients every day: ‘My weight is fine. I can eat whatever I want,'” said study senior author Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, preventive cardiology chief at the Mayo Clinic. “These results really challenge that.”
Abdominal fat — the main cause of an apple-shaped figure — has long been considered more worrisome than fat that settles on the hips and below, which marks the so-called pear shape. Risk increases for men if their waist circumference is larger than 40 inches, and 35 inches for women. Still, doctors typically focus more on BMI than waistlines; after all, girth tends to increase as weight does.
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