According to health experts, it may be time for most of us to suck it in and get out the tape measure. The bad news is that we are all getting larger, especially around our waistlines. Those comfortable elastic waist pants worn with a loose shirt have been hiding the truth about potentially serious health problems.
The word is out that having a large waist puts one at risk for certain health issues. Excess belly fat, even though you may not be greatly overweight, puts you at higher risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, inflammation, type 2 diabetes, cancer, respiratory disease and quite possibly an early death.
Research findings from the American Cancer Society
Researchers followed more than 100,000 older people, ages 50 – 75, for 9 years. Throughout the study participants were asked to measure their waistlines. Results of the studies found that those with the largest waistlines were sickest and had twice the risk of dying than those with smaller waistlines. Nearly all the participants who died had large waists.
The healthiest subjects had waist measurements of 35 inches and under for men, and under 30 inches for women. Men with a waist measurement of over 40 inches and women with a waist measurement of over 35 were the unhealthiest.
Fat around the waist, (visceral fat) is particularly unhealthy since it surrounds internal organs. The visceral fat interferes with the function of all the internal organs such as kidneys, lungs, liver and heart.
Women with an apple shaped figure had more health issues than women with an hour glass or pear shaped figure. The apple shape stores more visceral fat around the waist.
Waist size and stress
In 2007, Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz noted that a large waist size besides being unhealthy is an indicator of how one deals with stress. The fat behind the belly button absorbs stress hormones, and more fat gets deposited there. Dr. Oz has often discussed how unhealthy a large waist measurement can be, on the Oprah Winfrey Show. He has written a book titled “Waist Management.”
Waist to hip ratio…WHR
Waist to hip ratio strongly predicts mortality.
- Measure waist at smallest part
- Measure your hips about 8 inches down from your waist
- Divide the waist number by the hip number
Risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. for men
- .8 or below….low risk
- .96 to 1.0….moderate risk
- .1.09 or more….high risk
Risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease etc. for women
- .8 or below….low risk
- .81 to .86….moderate risk
- .86 or more….high risk
What to do.
- Visceral fat is very responsive to exercise…walking and aerobic exercise.
- Cut back on refined carbohydrates and refined sugar and lose weight…visceral fat is affected by eating refined carbohydrates. Eat whole grain foods and food high in fiber.
- Try to eliminate as much stress as possible.
Race also plays an important part in waist measurement. For Chinese and South Asian people, recommended waist measurements for men is below 35 inches and below 32 inches for women.
Oprah Winfrey television show, Dr. Oz.
St. Pete Times