New research confirms common wisdom

The best low-tech tool for assessing the risk of ischemic heart disease in overweight patients can be found in a sewing kit. According to Dr. Jean-Pierre Després of Laval University, using a common measuring tape to measure waist circumference may now be one of the simplest and most effective ways to determine your risk for cardiovascular disease.

“Abdominal obesity should be considered a significant health hazard,”‘ said Dr. Després, noting that where fat is situated in the body is one of the most important predictors of ischemic heart disease. Ischemic heart disease leads to reduced blood flow in the arteries, and is the most common form of heart disease. Located deep in the abdomen, “visceral fat” is the worst type for heart disease, and more dangerous than overall excess weight.

“We found that a waist measurement of one metre (39 inches) in men and women under age 40 indicates a significant visceral fat accumulation,’ ‘Dr. Després told physicians at the International Congress on Vascular Disease Prevention in Glasgow last week. He added that visceral obesity, which is often accompanied by insulin resistance, high triglycerides, and low levels of “good” HDL cholester, is likely “to represent the most prevalent cause of coronary heart disease in affluent societies.”

Men are more susceptible to visceral fat than women, and have on average twice the amount of visceral fat than pre-menopausal women. Women begin to accumulate more of this type of fat at menopause. For both after age 40, the target waist measurement is 90 centimetres (35 inches) instead of one metre. And remember, you don’t have to gain weight to have an increased weight size, so haul out the measuring tape!

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