Women this is very important to you!
A Norwegian study has found that excess abdominal fat is more of a risk factor for heart attacks then overall bodyweight. This is particularly true for women.
These findings fly in the face of current assessments where overall weight and BMI are taken as reliable indicators of risk factors.
This current study including other previous studies suggest that using a waist to hip ratio is a more valuable measuring tool.
It has long been believed that women did not have heart attacks as frequently as men, but that isn’t the case anymore. It is almost 50/50 regarding heart attacks based on gender.
Science is narrowing down some of the causes and are finding that abdominal fat, in particular, is increasing this risk along with increased consequences for other chronic diseases.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Bergen researchers collaborated and studied 140,790 healthy participants.
The subjects were 18 years or older and looked at a time frame of 9 years from 1994 to 2003.
They measured body weight, height, waist and hip circumference.
These subjects were then followed up within 2009 to find out how many suffered an acute heart attack.
What they found was that those who had an “apple” shaped body or high waist-hip ratio (excess abdominal fat) were at an increased risk of future heart attacks. This was after considering risk factors like smoking, diabetes, cholesterol, etc.
26% percent of the heart attacks were with women under the age of 60 and 9% of the heart attacks were young to middle-aged men. They all had a high waist to hip ratio.
What was interesting was that the waist to hip ratio was not as strong of an indicator for risk of heart attack with those that were 60 and older.
The researchers indicated that this was because of the aging that was associated with body composition changes.
They even uncovered that for both men and women who had a slimmer waistline, but still a high waist to hip ratio it was predicted that they were at an increased risk for a heart attack.
These findings are important because instead of looking at the weight on the scale or how you look in your clothes you should be looking at where your fat is located at on your body. Particularly for women who appear to be at a higher risk when fat is in the abdomen area.
The waist circumference indicates the potential for fat accumulation around your organs which is a health risk all by itself.
The World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes a healthy waist to hip ratio to be under 0.90 for men and 0.85 for women.
What is your ratio number?
To accurately measure your waist circumference, follow these steps:
- Find your upper hip bone.
To find the proper spot place your hands around your waist, and then move your fingers downward until you feel the top curve of your hips.
- Then place a tape measure around your stomach just above the top curve of your hip.
The measuring tape should be parallel to the floor. The tape measure should be snug to your body, but not so tight that it compresses the skin. Relax your abdomen and exhale.
Now follow these steps to determine your waist-to-hip ratio:
- Using a tape measure, measure the circumference of your hips.
Identify the widest part of your butt. Then place the tape measure at the widest location and measure around your hips and butt.
- Now calculate your waist-to-hip ratio by dividing your waist circumference by your hip measurement.
Your results ideally should be under 0.90 of men and 0.85 for women.
Fat, particularly in the abdominal region is a likely contributor to heart disease that includes chronic internal inflammation and dysfunction of fat-derived hormones
If you are above the suggested ratio work on eating a cleaner diet, watching your portions and upping the exercise intensity to burn more calories.