Most people are ignorant to the fact that a flabby waist makes them more likely to suffer from cancer, heart disease and diabetes, a survey suggests.
The survey, commissioned by Diabetes UK, Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation, found that 97 per cent of people are unaware of a link between a large waist and poor health, despite 71 per cent of those surveyed saying they had a ‘spare tyre’.
A waistline of more than 80cm (31.5 inches) in women or 94cm (37 inches) in men increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but when asked to pinpoint the waist measurement that causes them to tip over into being at risk, more than half of people overestimated it.
Excess flab around the middle increases the production of oestrogen - a female sex hormone - and other chemicals in the stomach, which put people at higher risk of killer diseases.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director for the BHF, said: “That ‘harmless’ spare tyre around your waist is actually a major health hazard.
“While you might be relaxing at home, your fat cells are working overtime to pump out excess hormones and other chemicals that can cause disease.
“Wrapping a tape measure around your middle takes just a few seconds, but it could be your vital first step towards a healthier future.”