- Belly fat increases the risk of premature death even for people with normal weight
- Men with big tummy have an 87% increased risk of premature death compared to men without extra belly fat
- Men with extra belly fat are more than twice the risk of dying early compared to overweight or obese men
- Woman with extra belly fat has a 50% increased risk of premature death versus normal women
- Normal-weight women with belly fat have a 32% higher risk of premature death compared to obese women
I am not obese and not even overweight. But should I worry about belly fat? This has been a concern for several people for many years. A new research clarifies that belly fat is bad, and it increases the risk of premature death even for people considered normal weight.
What is even more shocking is that normal weight individuals with excess stomach fat are more likely to die early than obese or overweight individuals. Researchers explained that stomach fat has been connected to heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, and inflammation.
Dr. Paul Poirier, from the Institute of Cardiology at Laval University in Quebec, Canada, said that some people are obese from a waist perspective. He also wrote an editorial for the study.
“Belly fat is bad fat. When you have fat around the belly, it’s a lot worse than having the same amount of fat around the hip. If your weight is normal, but you have weight around the middle, it’s bad. If you’ve got a belly above 40 inches for men and 34 inches for women, this is obesity [even if your weight measurements seem normal],” said Dr. Poirier.
The study was led by Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The research team collected data from a national survey to compare the risk of early death among 15,000 adults. The mean follow-up time was 14 years.
The scientists considered body mass index (BMI), an estimate of body fat based on weight and height. They also took waist-to-hip ratios into consideration.
The analysis found that normal weight individuals with extra stomach fat had the worst long-term survival, regardless of BMI. Also, men with more belly fat seemed to fare even worse than slim women with bigger tummies.
A normal weight man with big tummy had nearly an 87% increased risk of premature death compared to a normal weight man without extra belly fat. A normal weight man with extra belly fat had more than twice the risk of dying early compared to an overweight or obese man (measured by BMI only).
A normal weight woman with extra belly fat had nearly a 50% increased risk of premature death versus a normal weight woman whose weight is uniformly packed into her body. A normal weight woman with belly fat had a 32% higher risk of premature death compared to an obese woman (measured by BMI only). The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Karine R. Sahakyan, MD, PhD, MPH; Virend K. Somers, MD, PhD; Juan P. Rodriguez-Escudero, MD; David O. Hodge, MS; Rickey E. Carter, PhD; Ondrej Sochor, MD; Thais Coutinho, MD; Michael D. Jensen, MD; Véronique L. Roger, MD, MPH; Prachi Singh, PhD; and Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, MD, MS