'Love Handles' Raise Risk of Death
A study which examined 360,000 people within 9 countries in Europe has found that 'love handles' are a strong indicator of higher risk of death. The study estimated that each 2 inches on the waistline increased chance of early death by between 13-17%. Even if individuals had a normal overall body weight, a larger waist still indicated increased death risk.
The researchers, including some from Imperial College London, followed the volunteers, who were an average of 51 years old at the start of the study, for the next 10 years, during which time 14,723 of them died.
The standard measure of obesity, body mass index (BMI) remained a reasonable predictor of health problems, with those with a high reading more likely to die from cardiovascular disease or cancer.
However, the 'hip/waist ratio', a number produced by dividing the waist size by the hip measurement, and just the waist measurement on its own, were both good ways of sorting out those at highest risk.
The reason for the link is still not entirely clear, but researchers suppose that abdominal fat around the waistline differs from other body fats in that it releases different secretions and "messenger substances."
Professor Elio Riboli, from Imperial College London, said: "We were surprised to see the waist size having such a powerful effect on people's health and premature death.
"There aren't many simple individual characteristics that can increase a person's risk of premature death to this extent, independently from smoking and drinking."
He added: "The good news is that you don't need to take an expensive test and wait ages for the result to assess this aspect of your health - it costs virtually nothing to measure your hip and waist size."
So if you're round about the middle, this study is a clear reminder that it's time to get on that treadmill and start exercising, even if your overall body weight is in a healthy range.