Study: Body Proportions Increase Risk for Heart Disease

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds that not only obesity but body proportions could put you at an increased risk for heart disease.

It's no secret that obesity can put you at risk for many health problems. However, the new study suggests where you carry the weight could make the difference.

"According to this study, if the hips and waist grow together, the risks aren't as much as if you just get the middle-age spread without the hips," Dr. Gloria Jean Mays with Central Texas Heart Center said.

Therefore, a bigger waist and smaller hips could mean trouble. Doctors say when the waist to hip ratio is five inches or less in difference, you're putting yourself in harms way.

"With the waist to hip ratio--as it went up--your risks for coronary heart disease and aortic disease was higher, whereas if you just looked at the waist it didn't correlate," Mays said.

In the past, health experts say they relied heavily on a person's BMI, or body mass index, to measure body fat. However, doctors say the BMI measurement can't always detect obesity.

"You may have some huge athletic guy and he's going to have a big body mass index, but it doesn't mean he's overweight or out of shape-- so that's the difference," Mays said.

Some of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease include: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, a family history of heart disease and smoking.

"We probably have to add obesity on to that (list)," Mays said. "Being obese causes increased risks, especially if you have that elevated waist to hip ratio."

Doctors say men generally tend to naturally fall in the bigger waist, smaller hips category. However, women are not immune. Both men and women need to be exceedingly careful as they age and their metabolisms change.


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