Study – Belly Fat and Normal BMI Deadlier than Obesity

belly-2354_1280Although it’s long been proven that obesity is a serious health risk, those of normal build who proudly carry their beer guts may be at greater danger of cardiovascular disease and early death than those who are classified as obese.

This was claimed by a new study involving over 15,000 adults in the United States, one that may be the first to associate central obesity as a big risk for people with a normal body mass index, or BMI. According to the researchers, using BMI as a gauge for obesity and health risk is quite limiting, as it prevents doctors from fully being aware of possible health risks; people with normal BMI and central obesity, after all, may be suffering from health risks associated with central obesity all along.

“It’s not just the fat you can see when your ‘spare tire’ rolls over your pant line,” said Dr. Daniel Neides, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. “But it’s actually the fat that is deposited within the abdomen and it really covers the organs within the abdominal cavity.”

The study involved 15,184 adults in the U.S. aged 18 to 90, with a fairly even mix of men and women. Researchers compared the correlation of obesity based on BMI and waist-to-hip ratio with total death risk and heart disease health risk. As it turned out, men with normal BMI and a large belly were 87 percent more likely to die than men with the same BMI and a normal-sized belly. Women with fat bellies and normal BMI had a 48 percent greater likelihood of death than those with normal BMI and belly size.

The researchers hope the study serves as a warning for big-bellied people of normal weight to take care of their health and not be overconfident just because their BMI is normal. “People with normal weight according to BMI can’t be reassured that they don’t have any fat-related health issues,” said Mayo Clinic professor of medicine and senior author Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez in a statement. “Having a normal weight is not enough. It’s good only if the distribution of fat is healthy.”