Happy New Year, everyone! If you are like me, you’ve probably made a resolution to try to lose weight and get more fit this year. Good for you!
Most of us do this to lose some of the weight we gained over the Thanksgiving to Christmas season of over-eating. But it turns out, a smaller waistline can have significant health benefits, too.
Here’s the science: there’s actually a large body (pardon the pun) of scientific evidence linking obesity, especially excess fat around the middle, to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
To figure out if you have too much around your middle, you don’t need any fancy body analyzer machines, CT scans, water-displacement testing – all you need is a tape measure. It turns out that waist circumference is a very good way to identify abdominal obesity, even if your overall weight is normal. A waist circumference more than 102 cm (40 inches) in men, or 88 cm (34.5 inches) for women has been scientifically proven to be a good indicator for abdominal obesity and the need for weight management. (Morrison, et al, 1995)
Another study (van den Donk, 2009) showed that amongst people with a waist size above 102 / 88 cm, 15.5% had metabolic syndrome – hypertension, elevated cholesterol and pre-diabetes. Elevated cardiac risk scores have also been found in people with increased waist circumference (Schunkert, et al, 2008).
In the year 2000, in the U.S., the average waist size was 99 cm/39 inches for men and 94 cm/37 for women. Compare this to 1960, when the average waist size was 89 and 77 cm, or 4 inches and 7 inches less respectively. Over the same time period, we’re only about one inch taller.
If we look at the percentage of the population with a waist size in the danger zone, back in 1960, just 12.7% of men and 19% of women qualified. Now 38% of men and 59% of women would fall into the abdominal obesity category. So, Americans are more apple-shaped than ever before.
Does this mean we should do some liposuction around the waist on most Americans? Well, not exactly. Even though liposuction might help someone look smaller, it unfortunately doesn’t confer any of the health benefits of diet and exercise.
So, hit the gym. Get on the diet bandwagon. I’ll help you with the rest with my magic liposuction cannula!
Illustration courtesy of medicineworld.org