Having a ‘spare tyre’ round the middle is more dangerous than simply being obese, research has shown.
In a study of 15,184 American men and women with an average age of 45, men with bulging middles were found to have a worse survival record than others classified as overweight or obese by body mass index (BMI), which relates weight and height.
The effects on women were less pronounced, but still noticeable.
The study, which tracked the individuals over a period of 14 years, is part of an ongoing investigation into US citizens’ health and lifestyles.
Researchers, led by Dr Francisco Lopez-Jiminez from the Mayo Clinic, said that “spare tyre” obesity was associated with the accumulation of “visceral” fat around internal organs, known to be especially harmful to health.
Excess visceral fat is associated with insulin resistance, higher levels of cholesterol and blood fats, and inflammation.
Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “We all know that watching our weight is important, but often it’s forgotten that where you carry the weight makes a difference too.
“Having more fat around your middle can lead to Type 2 diabetes, which greatly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, but there is lots you can do to get rid of this excess weight and lower your risk.
“Keeping physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet will help control your weight and reduce your risk of diabetes and heart and circulatory diseases.”
Mr Allen advised those who are concerned about their weight to make an appointment to see their GP or practice nurse.