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Love Handles... Can Your Heart ‘Handle’ Them?

Thursday, April 23, 2009
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Did you know that even if your weight lies in the normal range, you could still be at risk of developing heart diseases if you have a large waistline?

Just four extra inches of fat around your middle could increase your risk of heart failure by 15-16%.  

This was the finding of a recently released research study conducted on 80,360 Swedish men and women aged 45 to 83 (1).

Various parameters including waist size, waist-to-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio, and B.M.I (Body Mass Index) were measured. Though all four measures were associated with heart disease, waist circumference alone predicted heart disease risk regardless of other measures. During the seven year long study, 1,100 of them were either hospitalized for heart disease or died from it because of a large waistline. The findings were observed in overweight as well as normal-weight participants who had an above-normal waist circumference.
"Obesity has effect on blood pressure and lipids and all of the other things that we know increase the risk of heart disease, but it also will just increase the workload on the heart," explained Emily Levitan, the study's first author. "The bigger someone's body, the harder the heart has to work to pump the blood around."

The strength of the association, however, was strongest in the younger population and tended to decline among older people. This means that the younger the person, the greater the impact of weight to heart health.

These findings are consistent with a major European study conducted in November 2008 (2). This study too concluded that excess fat stored around the middle of the body was a major health risk even when people are not considered obese or even overweight by statistical BMI standards. Tobias Pischon, the lead author of the paper from the German Institute of Human Nutrition observed that not just being overweight, but also the distribution of body fat, affects the risk of premature death of each individual.

The importance of maintaining a normal waist circumference along with a healthy weight and BMI has become more important than never before.
For Americans & Europeans, normal waist size is 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.

However, the threshold is slightly lower for Asians/Indians because of a higher genetic risk. Normal values for Asian men and women are 35 inches and 32 inches respectively.

Eating a well-balanced, low-fat, low-sugar diet and engaging in some form of physical activity for at least 30-45 minutes, five times a week will keep your love handles at bay.

Assess your parameters & risk for developing heart disease now.

Thereafter you can have a one to one consult with our trained nutritionists online, who can lead you into a weight-loss diet and exercise schedule.


By, The Dietetic Team @

Post Comments to online discussion on Large Waist circumference- an even greater health risk then previously thought. By. Meenakshi Hejmadi.



User Comments

01 October, 2010 | Suparna | Reply

Suparna Women with PCOS may be obese and in despair to concieve. Any woman with PCOS, treated or not, can, if put on a customised diet and exercise program, lose 10 percent or more of body weight. Losing such a moderate amount of weight often will, in turn, push male hormone levels down, leading to a resumption of regular periods and improved chances of conception

01 October, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy A study conducted by the Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, M. K. Ciurlionio 21/27, Vilnius, Lithuania, shows that if waist circumference and waist to hip ratio of women with PCOS increases, there are alterations in their reproductive function and metabolic state as compared to women with no changes in these parameters. This study also showed that women with PCOS have more adipose tissue mass in the areas of abdomen, waist, and upper arms than control women.

28 June, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Obesity is on the rise even in children these days, so as a part of the school curriculum/school lunch programs if it is addressed and children are educated it will probably make a greater impact for life and hopefully it will help reduce health challenges later in life.

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