Belly fat + heart disease can be deadly: Study

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Even normal–weight abdominal obesity and heart disease has an increased risk of death compared to obesity where fat is concentrated elsewhere. It is as significant a risk factor as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or having very high blood cholesterol. And the risk is greater for men. BMI is just a measure of weight in proportion to height. What seems to be more important is how the fat is distributed on the body. The study is published in the May 10 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The researchers looked at data from five studies conducted around the world, involving almost 16,000 people with coronary artery disease. The risk of death was nearly doubled for people with coronary artery disease and central obesity, which was determined by waist circumference and waist–to–hip ratio.

Visceral (belly) fat has been found to be more metabolically active. It produces more changes in cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. However, people who have fat mostly in other locations in the body, specifically the legs and buttocks, don’t show this increased risk.

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