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Belly Fat Could Kill You

Por Carola Sixto -

The concern for abdominal fat goes far beyond an esthetic issue. This is demonstrated by the study "General and Abdominal Adiposity and Risk of Death in Europe," published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Unlike other studies that are based on Body Mass Index (BMI) to explain how obesity affects health, this study delves into fat distribution as a predictor of premature death.
This way, after examining 359,387 participants from nine European countries over 10 years, the researchers provided a new approach to the issue of obesity, by demonstrating that people who have more abdominal fat have up to twice the risk of dying from any cause.

By the end of the study, 14,723 people had died for various reasons: 5,429 from tumors, 3,443 from circulatory causes, 637, 2209 from respiratory problems, 2,209 from other causes, and 3,005 from unspecified reasons. Among the conditioning factors of obesity, alcohol consumption appeared as an important determinant of male obesity, but there was no association in women.

Those at higher risk

According to the study, people who have a greater chance of premature death are: 

  • Women with a BMI below o above 24.3. 
  • Men with a BMI below or above 25.3.

The risk can be higher in some cases:

  • Women with a BMI greater than 35 are at 65% higher risk than women with a BMI of 24.3.
  • Women with a BMI below 18.4 are 71% more likely to die than those with a BMI of 24.3. 
  • Women with a waist circumference over 89 cm are at 78% higher risk than those measuring less than 70.1 centimeters. 
  • Men who have a BMI over 35 have 90% more risk. 
  • Men with a BMI lower than 18.5 double the chances of mortality, as well as men. 
  • Also, the risk is doubled in men who have an abdominal perimeter over 102 centimeters, compared with men who have less than 86 cm of waist circumference.

Having a prominent belly isn't something that can be modified overnight. However, losing weight is possible with a balanced diet and adequate physical activity.

Source: “General and Abdominal Adiposity and Risk of Death in Europe”, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.


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