Monday, June 16, 2014

Wider Waistline – A Strong Predictor of Decreased Life Expectancy

By: Aniqa Baqauddin, MD _ Family Medicine at Trinity Medical Center

We have all heard about weight watchers, but now we are beginning to realize the importance of becoming a “WAIST WATCHER.”

Supporting data published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, recommends waist watching. Internal belly fat is like no other fat. Although we need some of this fat for normal bodily functions, too much is harmful to our lives.

Incidence of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, Type 2 Diabetes and different types of cancers all increase with the amount of excessive fat inside our bellies.

Recently, an interesting fact was published on WebMD - the average waistline has increased by one inch for every decade since the 1960s. Studies have found that people who have four extra inches around their waist had a 15%-25% increased risk of dying, irrespective of the Body Mass Index (BMI), meaning that even so called normal weight individuals are also not out of the woods unless their waistline is under control.

Researchers have concluded that men and women with large waist size/ wider abdominal girth had 52% and 80% higher risk of dying respectively, when compared to those who had a waistline of less than 40 inches for men and less than 35 inches for women. The estimated decrease in life expectancy translates to approximately 3 years for men and 5 years for women. While the bulging belly dilemma is found across all ages, the biggest risk is for men and women over the age of 40.

Waist circumference is a very simple measurement that says a lot about your potential life expectancy. There is a quick screening that can be done at home; all you need is a measuring tape. There is a simple diagram from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute showing how to correctly measure the waist circumference:

Measuring Tape Position for Waist (Abdominal) Circumference

So if you are not already a “Waist Watcher,” now is the time to become one. Simply:

1. Measure your waist circumference as explained above. Irrespective of your weight and BMI, if it is more than 40 inches for men and more than 35 inches for women, you need to work on reducing the size.

2. Healthy lifestyle is the key - be physically active, eat well and discuss health risks and goals with your medical provider.

3. Be a true “Waist Watcher.”

Sources: 1.
2. Mayo Clinic Proceedings
3. Archives of Internal Medicine
4. Medline plus
5. Web MD
6. Vanderbilt University Medical Center
7. Uptodate®
8. Obesity

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