Mayo Clinic Study Identifies Belly Fat as Particularly Unhealthy

Ratio of body fat to lean body mass critical identifier for higher risk of cardiovascular death.

A recent study from Mayo Clinic researchers argues that the ratio of body fat to lean body mass (LBM) is critical and identifies belly fat as particularly unhealthy.

The researchers focused on the body-mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio of 12,785 people divided into six groups based on their BMI and whether they had a normal or high waist-to-hip ratio. The researchers then followed the subjects for 14 years.

The study found that people with a normal BMI but a high waist-to-hip measurement-evidence of an abnormally large belly-had 2.7 times higher risk of cardiovascular death. Their risk of dying from any cause was 2.1 times higher when compared to people with a normal waist-to hip ratio. This group had the highest risk of "any cause" of death out of all six participant groups, including the obese group, whose BMIs were above 30. The study appears to debunk the conventional notion that cardiovascular disease targets mostly those who are overweight and obese.

"A big belly is usually due to the accumulation of internal fat, known as visceral fat, around the organs in the abdominal cavity," say boomer generation health experts Dian Griesel, Ph.D., and Tom Griesel, authors of the new books TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust (April 2011, BSH) and The TurboCharged Mind (January 2012, BSH). "This study reinforces our position that a protruding belly is an obvious warning sign that should not be ignored no matter what you weigh. The size of your waist in relation to the size of your hips can help determine your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other adverse conditions."

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