Does A Larger Waistline Increase Your Risk Of Dying Young?

larger waistline

Waistlines these days are bigger than they ever have been. This is true not just in the United States, but around the world. In 2008, there were about 500 million obese and almost 1 billion overweight adults globally.In the US today, about 1 in 3 people are obese, whereas in the rest of the world only about 1 in 10 people are. In addition to being a risk factor for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke, being obese can increase your risk for dying young.According to a recent study, the larger your waist size, the greater your risk of an early death.

Why is a large waist size dangerous?

Experts have known for several years that not all body fat is created equal. Fat that you carry around your belly area leads to more health problems than fat carried in the legs, hips, or buttocks.

Experts are not exactly sure why fat that is stored in different parts of the body acts differently, but they know that this does happen. Fat in the belly area leads to chemical changes in your body that can lead to high blood pressure, high blood glucose, and high cholesterol. This does not seem to happen with fat that builds up in other areas of the body.

The more belly fat you have, the larger your waist size. This is why experts think that the size of your waistline can have such big effects on your health.

The research
The researchers collected facts from 11 past studies that included more than 600,000 people. They looked at a variety of information including:

  • Waist size
  • What medical problems people had
  • How many people died
  • How they died
  • How old they were when they died

They wanted to find out if people with larger-sized waists were:

  • More likely to die at an early age
  • More likely to have serious health problems

The results

The study found that, overall, people with large waist sizes were more likelyto:

  • Die at an earlier age
  • Die from problems like cancer, lung problems, or heart disease

Large WaistlineFor men whose waist size was less than 35 inches, the risk of death was about one-half lower than men whose waist was greater than 43 inches. On average, the men with the larger waists would live 3 years less than those with smaller waists. For women whose waist size was less than 27 inches, the risk of death was more than ­three-fourths lower than women whose waists measured more than 37 inches. Therefore, women with large waists live 5 years less than those with smaller waists.

For every 2-inch increase in waist size, the risk of death went up about 10-percent.

What do these results mean for you?

This study shows that having a large waist can shorten your lifespan.The larger your waist, the more health problems you could have.

So, what can you do about it? The key to a smaller waist is weight loss. This means you should be more active, and consume less calories each day . When lifestyle changes are not enough to help you reach your weight loss goals, ask your healthcare provide about medicines, or in some cases, weight loss surgeries, that may assist you in your journey to a healthy weight.

The take home points

  • Obesity puts you at risk for many different health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Fat stored around the belly causes more health problems than fat stored in other parts of the body.
  • Having a large waist can increase your risk for dying young—the larger your waist, the greater the risk.
  • Losing even a few inches from your waistline can greatly lower your risk.
  • If you have any questions about what you read here, or if you want more information about safe and effective ways to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider at your next office visit.



Revised by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

(45 Articles)

Dr. Robert Ehrman, MD is a Board Certified Emergency Physician. He completed his training in Emergency Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT and Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL. He always reminds his patients that the more they take care for their health each day, the less likely they are to visit him again in the ER!

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