Carrying any excess weight is bad for your health. It can put pressure on joints and increase the risk of developing certain diseases, including some kinds of cancer.
But not all excess weight is created equal. Extra pounds are far more dangerous for your health if you store them around the middle. So, if you are an apple shape, you need to be far more concerned about weight gain than if you are a pear who stores fat around hips, thighs and backside.
This is because fat in the midriff area is not so much laid down beneath the skin, but stored in body cavities and in and around vital organs.
Fat around the middle is linked to a pattern of health known as ‘metabolic syndrome’. This means an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease.
It is not clear why some people store fat around the middle, while others store it in less dangerous places, but it is known that the stress hormone cortisol can increase the deposit of fat around the waist and belly.
Studies have shown that people with a high waist measurement die three to five years earlier than those with a low waist measurement. And, even if you are in the normal BMI range, you are still not out of the woods, as it has been found that people with a normal BMI but increased waist measurement are still 20% more likely to die than those with a smaller waist.
So, being a healthy weight is not enough. You also need to keep an eye on your waist measurement.
To see if you have a potential problem, work out your waist to hip ratio. If this ratio is over 0.85 for women, or one for men, you need to do something about it.
Overall weight reduction will help, and aerobic exercise has been shown to be effective at reducing weight around the middle as well as liver fat.
HOW TO WORK OUT WAIST TO HIP RATIO
- Find and measur your waist – it is half way between your hip bone and bottom rib
- Your waist should measure less than 32” (80cm). 32-35” (80-88cm) is high – anything over that is very high
- Then measure your hips at the widest point
- Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement to get your waist-to-hip ratio
So, if you have a waist measurement of 28″ and a hip measurement of 40″, your waist-to-hip ratio would be 28 divided by 40, which equals 0.7 – a healthy ratio for both men and women – remember for women anything over 0.85 is a problem and for men anything over 1 is a problem.