Study: Larger waistline detrimental to health

Published On: Mar 13 2014 06:03:16 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 13 2014 06:05:19 PM EDT

A new international collaborative study led by a Mayo Clinic researcher found having a large waistline has consequences beyond trouble squeezing into your pants. It can be detrimental to your health.

Currently in the United States, obesity is measured by someone's BMI or Body Mass Index. The Mayo Clinic researcher, Dr. James Cerhan, says that needs to change.

"We know BMI is not a perfect measure," Cerhan said. "First, it doesn't discriminated lean mass from fat mass. Lean mass is your muscles. Fat mass is your fat. And it also doesn't say anything about where your weight is located. Is the extra weight in your hips or is it in your belly?"

Cerhan said he discovered men and women with a large waist circumference are more likely to die younger.

They're also more likely to die from heart disease, respiratory ailments and cancer.

The researchers pooled data from 11 different cohort studies, including more than 600,000 people from around the world.

They found that men with waists 43 inches or greater in circumference had a 50 percent higher mortality risk than men with waists less than 35 inches. That translated to about a three-year lower life expectancy after age 40 for men.

Women with a waist circumference of 37 inches or greater had about an 80 percent higher mortality risk than women with a waist circumference of 27 inches or less. That translated to about a five-year lower life expectancy after age 40 for women.

"We found the weight circumstance is positively associated with a higher mortality rate after you accounted for age, smoking, alcohol use, physical activity and BMI," Cerhan said.

The study is published in the March edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

To watch Dr. Cerhan's full interview, click here.


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