A woman’s body shape, and not just her weight, may have an impact on her health.
Women with a waist circumference of 35 inches (88 centimeters) or more face an increased risk for obesity-related health issues, including premature death, according to new research culled from the long-term Women’s Health Initiative study. And that was so even if a woman’s weight or body mass index (BMI) was within a normal range.
Post-menopausal women with excess fat in their midsection – known as central obesity and sometimes referred to as an apple shape – were 31 percent more likely to die prematurely, including from cardiovascular disease and obesity-related cancer, than were normal-weight women who did not have extra belly fat. That risk was considered comparable to the risk faced by someone deemed obese by BMI standards.
The results, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, were based on data that tracked the health of 156,624 postmenopausal women for more than two decades. Whether the findings apply to younger women or to men was not tested.
A commentary published along with the study says the findings serve as “a reminder that the scale is not everything” and that people with a low BMI are not automatically fit and at low risk. Rather, where fat accumulates on your body can affect your health.