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Beer bellies linked to early death risk

Beer bellies linked to early death risk

Slim people with ‘beer bellies’ are more likely to die early than those who are overweight or obese, according to new research. It’s been suggested that having a thick middle, known as central obesity, increases the chance of an early death even if Body Mass Index (BMI) is normal, while those who are overweight but have normal fat distribution see no change in risk levels.

It had already been found that people with central obesity have less muscle mass, which is again linked to an increase in mortality. The new study is the first to look at the effect this type of ‘spare tyre’ has on slim people with a normal BMI in comparison to those who are classed as overweight or obese, specifically when comparing death rate.

The finding comes after 15,184 adults between the ages of 18 and 90 participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). As part of this, the way their body fat was distributed across their bodies was looked at, with deaths assessed via records, and it was determined that there is a link between central obesity and early death.

Dr Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, explained: “Our findings suggest that persons with normal-weight central obesity may represent an important target population for lifestyle modification and other preventive strategies. Future studies should focus on identifying factors associated with the development of normal-weight central obesity and better understanding the effect of normal-weight central obesity on health outcomes.”

The research has been published in journal Annals of Internal Medicine, with Dr Lopez-Jimenez suggesting that teaming BMI with a measurement of belly fat will give the best indicator of a person’s health at the moment.

The medical professional added that there are several studies which have muddied the waters when it comes to obesity, such as an analysis that suggests a BMI that states a person is obese has links to a lower early death rate. There is even confusion among doctors, with some thinking measuring things like waist-to-hip ratio (which can be used to determine central obesity) is important when considering death rate, and others sceptical.

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