Having the proverbial “spare tire” of extra weight around your waist may actually be worse for you than being good ol’ fashioned fat according to research published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
According to The Atlantic, a team of researchers primarily from the Mayo Clinic found that otherwise skinny looking people with what is known as “central obesity,” or extra weight around the waist, had twice the mortality risk than people who were overweight or obese but didn’t have central obesity. The study looked at over 15,000 people of a wide age range between 18 to 90 years old for a period of 14 years. Even when controlling for age and BMI, both men and women with belly fat fared worse than their overall chubby counterparts.
The cause of this phenomenon isn’t entirely known though researchers speculate a number of reasons including that central obesity may be a sign of insulin resistance and poor metabolism. They stress, however, that simply using BMI as a factor for determining health risks might not always cover the whole picture. “Waist-to-hip ratio is a simple and reliable measure for central obesity, but it is infrequently used in daily clinical practice,” said Paul Poirier, a cardiology professor who wrote in an editorial that accompanied the research.