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A Big Belly Is Dangerous

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A big belly is dangerous to your health, even if you are not overweight. American Cancer Society scientists has completed a 14 year study of the association between waist circumference and mortality of men and women age 50 and older. The results found that after adjusting for body mass index (BMI) and other risk factors, very large waists-47 inches or larger in men and 42 inches or larger in women-were associated with approximately twice the likelihood of dying during the study period.

But having a larger waistline was linked to greater mortality risk across all BMI levels, including normal-weight men and women. The scientists noted that waist circumference is strongly correlated with fat tissue surrounding the organs in the abdomen, which is thought to be more dangerous than fat under the skin. Women are considered "abdominally obese" if their waist circumference measures 34.6 inches or larger, and for men 40.1 inches or larger. 

So regardless of weight, avoiding gains in waist circumference may reduce the risk of premature mortality. Even if you haven't had a noticeable weight gain, if your waist size is increasing, it is important to be more mindful of your eating and start exercising.