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Belly fat confirmed as major mortality risk

Coronary artery disease sufferers with flabby waists are more likely to die than those with fat elsewhere, a study has found.

US-based researchers said that people with the condition who also have a bit of a beer belly or muffin top have twice the risk of dying than those whose fat sits in places other than around their middle.

The team from the Mayo Clinic analysed the waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference of nearly 16,000 people. Patients with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) sporting slight midriff flab were also found to be at risk.

The researchers found that carrying fat around the belly was potentially as dangerous as smoking a pack of cigarettes per day or having very high cholesterol.

Previous studies have shown that patients with a higher BMI and chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease have better survival odds than normal-weight individuals.

However, the latest findings go against this “obesity paradox”, researchers said.

Lead study author Thais Coutinho said: “We suspected that the obesity paradox was happening because BMI is not a good measure of body fatness and gives no insight into the distribution of fat.

“BMI is just a measure of weight in proportion to height. What seems to be more important is how the fat is distributed on the body.”

Coronary artery disease patients who have normal BMIs should be urged to lose weight by their doctors if they have a large waist circumference or a high waist-to-hip ratio, the authors claimed.

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