Belly Fat Dangerous Even At A Normal Weight

First Posted: Nov 10, 2015 11:35 AM EST

Even normal weight people with excess fat around their middle may be at an increased risk of early death, according to a recent study.

Previous studies have found that excess middle weight increases the risk of early death. However, it's only now that researchers have found that those of normal weight with too much fat around their stomach are also at an increased risk.

Men in the study with excess fat around their middle had an 87 percent increased risk of death during the study period while normal weight women with extra middle fat showed a 50 percent increased risk of death during the study period when compared to women with more equally distributed weight.

"This idea that central obesity might be related to health issues is not new. It's been proposed for a number of years," lead study author Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiovascular specialist at the Mayo Clinic, said via CBS News. "However, for all that time, it has been the assumption that if somebody has central obesity, the person is very likely obese. But in this study, we actually proved that a person can be centrally obese and have normal BMI and that person is at a greater risk for serious health problems."

During the study, researchers examined the risk of premature death among more than 15,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 to 90 who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They looked at body mass index (BMI), a rough estimate of body fat based on weight and height measurements, as well as waist-to-hip ratios. There was a mean follow-up period of 14 years--during which time over 3,200 deaths occurred.

The study showed that normal weight adults with extra weight around their midsection were more likely to die early, regardless of their BMI.

The study is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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