Having Belly Fat Despite Having Normal BMI Still Increases Risk of Death

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Researchers at Loughborough University have discovered that people with a normal BMI carrying extra weight around the middle are more likely to die from any cause, compared to those who are overweight yet carry their excess somewhere else.

BMI stands for body mass index. It’s a number which takes into account a person’s height and weight to calculate whether they are obese. You can calculate your BMI here.

The team from Loughborough, whose work was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, were led by Professors Mark Hamer and David Stensel and Dr Gary O’Donovan who all hail from the University’s School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences. They analysed the data of 42, 707 participants taken from 10 separate years of the annual Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey.

The goal of this new research was to undergo a large-scale study to determine whether it yielded the same conclusions as smaller scale studies — a person with central obesity (that’s the weight around the middle) has a worse long-term survival rate. In short, that means they are at greater risk of death. Researchers began by splitting the participants into several groups:

  • normal weight
  • normal weight with central obesity
  • overweight
  • overweight with central obesity
  • obese
  • obese with central obesity

The results of their analysis showed that the normal weight with central obesity and obese with central obesity group were at an increased risk for “all-cause” mortality. That signifies that people with more belly fat are likely to encounter more fatal diseases.

“It is yet further evidence that even if you are within a ‘healthy’ BMI range but you carry weight around your stomach your health is still at risk,” says Hamer. “The message here is that if you do have central obesity, no matter what your BMI, you should take steps to reduce this fat.”

Those who carry additional weight in the stomach region are at greater risk for a multitude of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.  Ways to reduce bulk in this region are:

  • removing sugar / grains from diet
  • eating more high-fat foods and green vegetables

If you want to shed some pounds from the middle, please call us today to schedule an appointment where we can discuss nutritional guidelines to help you lower your risk of early death.

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