Having a fat belly doubles your heart attack risk even if you aren't obese, a study has found.
Those of normal weight but a bigger belly have more chance of heart problems than those who are obese but not carrying their excess weight round the waist.
Researchers tested the hypothesis that people with normal weight and central obesity would have more heart problems than people with normal weight and normal fat distribution.
It comes after concerns that body mass index (BMI), which is weight relative to height and used to categorise adults as underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese, fails to account for the amount and distribution of fat and muscle.
From 1997 to 2000 the study enrolled 1,692 American residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, aged 45 years or older.
Participants underwent a clinical examination and measurements were taken of weight, height, waist circumference and hip circumference.
They were then followed-up from 2000 to 2016 for the occurrence of major adverse cardiovascular events.
It emerged that participants with a normal BMI and central obesity had an approximately two-fold higher long-term risk of suffering a major adverse cardiovascular event when the results were compared to participants without central obesity, regardless of their BMI.
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