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Forget The Scale: Measure Your Waist To Predict Health Risk

Posted By Candy Sagon On June 7, 2012 @ 10:57 am In Health Talk | Comments Disabled

[1]Is your waist measurement more than half your height? Then you could be at increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.

That’s what British researchers found after following 30,000 middle-aged Europeans for up to 17 years: Waist size, not just weight or Body Mass Index [2] (BMI), was a better predictor for high blood pressure, diabetes [3] and cardiovascular problems.

“Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world,” said study author Margaret Ashwell.

The new study, which appears in the journal PLoS Medicine, is the latest to emphasize the importance of waist size and the shortcomings of BMI, reports CNN [4].

BMI, a ratio of height to weight, has been criticized lately because it doesn’t take into account muscle mass or indicate where fat is located on the body. On the BMI scale, a muscular athlete could have the same BMI as a couch potato who’s the same height, but overweight with a big gut [5].

Waist size, on the other hand, is not only a lot simpler than BMI to calculate, it’s a fast snapshot of a person’s body type and can help identify high-risk people who are overweight, but not obese.

A large waist circumference means lots of belly fat [6] — as opposed to carrying your fat in your hips and thighs — which has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. (Belly fat is stored deep in the abdomen, interfering with internal organs; fat elsewhere is stored beneath the skin and produces fewer complications.)

In the study, people who were overweight but also had a large waist – defined as 40 inches for a man and 35 inches for a woman – were more likely than obese people with normal or moderately large waists to develop type 2 diabetes, the researchers found.

After 10 years, 7 percent of overweight men and 4.4 percent of overweight women with large waists had developed diabetes. In contrast, among obese men and women with moderately large waists, diabetes developed in just 4.9 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

Among women, in fact, waist size appeared to be even more useful than BMI for predicting diabetes, CNN reported.

The study was the largest of its kind, although the authors pointed out that it was limited to participants who were European and overwhelmingly white. Future studies will be needed to confirm the link between waist size and diabetes in people of other ethnic backgrounds.

In other health news:

Bone drugs offers no protection from colon cancer, study says. [7] Reuters reports on a new study that finds that women who use certain bone-building drugs may not have a decreased risk of colon cancer, despite prior evidence suggesting the drugs might offer some protection. The drugs, called bisphosphonates, include brands like Fosamax, Boniva, Reclast and Actonel, along with generic versions.

Eye burns linked to misuse of Clear Care contact lens solution. [8] From Msnbc.com, reports of burning eyes and emergency injuries from misuse of a popular contact lens cleaner. A patient safety group says the its makers have failed to adequately warn consumers about the dangers of using the product improperly. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a nonprofit medication safety agency, says it has been lobbying for two years to get the firm to bolster its warning labels.

Untreatable gonorrhea spreading around world. [9] Drug-resistant strains of gonorrhoea have spread to countries across the world, the United Nations health agency said on Wednesday, and millions of patients may run out of treatment options for the sexually transmitted disease unless doctors catch and treat cases earlier.

Photo credit: Courtesy wyssyr.com


Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org

URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2012/06/07/forget-the-scale-measure-your-waist-to-predict-health-risk/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://aarpblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pot-belly.jpg

[2] Body Mass Index: http://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/info-05-2010/bmi-obese-results.html

[3] diabetes: http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-11-2011/soft-drinks-womens-heart-disease-diabetes-risk.html

[4] CNN: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/05/waist-size-signals-diabetes-risk/

[5] a big gut: http://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/info-2007/belly_fat.html

[6] belly fat: http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-04-2012/lose-weight-for-heart-health-discovery.html

[7] Bone drugs offers no protection from colon cancer, study says.: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/07/us-drugs-colon-cancer-idUSBRE8560XQ20120607

[8] Eye burns linked to misuse of Clear Care contact lens solution. : http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/05/12070189-eye-burns-linked-to-misuse-of-clear-care-contact-lens-cleaner?lite

[9] Untreatable gonorrhea spreading around world.: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/06/us-gonorrhoea-who-idUSBRE8550G920120606

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