'Love handles' raise death risk

Carrying extra fat around your middle dramatically increases your risk of early death, even if your overall weight is normal, say researchers.

A study of almost 360,000 people from nine European countries found waist size a "powerful indicator" of risk. Each extra 2ins (5cm) raised the chance of early death by between 13% and 17%. The New England Journal of Medicine study stressed GPs should regularly measure patients' waists as a cheap and easy way to assess health.

The link between waist fat and health problems has been established for some time, but the sheer size of the study gives scientists a far more accurate picture. The researchers, including some from Imperial College London, followed the volunteers, who were an average of 51 years old at the start of the study, for the next 10 years, during which time 14,723 of them died.

The standard measure of obesity, body mass index (BMI) remained a reasonable predictor of health problems, with those with a high reading more likely to die from cardiovascular disease or cancer.

However, the 'hip/waist ratio', a number produced by dividing the waist size by the hip measurement, and just the waist measurement on its own, were both good ways of sorting out those at highest risk.

Source - BBC

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