Larger waist circumferences are linked with greater risk of death in a new… (Tim Sloan / AFP/Getty images )
Having a large waist is associated with a host of potentially serious health issues, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and inflammation. According to a new study, it may also be linked to something else: death.
Researchers from the Epidemiology Research Program of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta looked at data among 48,500 men and 56,343 women ages 50 and older who were mostly white and took part in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. In 1997 they supplied their weight and waist circumference. At the beginning of the study the average age was 69 for men and 67 for women.
The study participants were followed until 2006, at which point 9,315 men and 5,332 women had died. Having a very large waist -- at least 47 inches for men and 43 inches for women -- was associated with about twice the risk of death compared with men with waists measuring 35 inches or less and women with waists measuring 30 inches or less. The link was found through all BMI groups, but in women it was strongest among those who were normal weight. Incremental increases in waist circumference were linked to a higher mortality risk.
Having visceral, or intra-abdominal fat, is considered to be a bigger health risk than fat underneath the skin, or subcutaneous fat, since visceral fat surrounds the internal organs.
Researchers also found that men and women with the largest waist circumferences also tended to be less educated, have a high BMI, were physically inactive, used to smoke and had a history of cardiovascular or respiratory disease or cancer.
The study was released Monday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
-- Jeannine Stein / Los Angeles Times