Are you an apple or pear? Why you should you take your body shape to heart

What can an apple or a pear tell you about your heart health? When applied to
your body, it turns out that an apple shape (where fat is concentrated more around
the middle section) may be a strong indicator of your risk of developing cardiovascular
disease and diabetes. According to the latest research, people who are health
conscious would be better off measuring their waist than stepping on a scale.

Yet, many Canadians are still unaware of the link between their body shape
and cardiovascular disease. In fact, in a 2005 survey, fewer than one-third
of Canadians identified abdominal obesity, as measured by waist circumference,
as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“This tells us that Canadians have a lot to learn about excess abdominal
fat and how it impacts their health,” said Dr. Jean-Pierre Després,
Director of Research, Cardiology, at Hôpital Laval in Quebec City. “They
need to be aware that something as simple and easy as measuring their waist
is an important first step in helping them avoid heart disease and diabetes.”

In general, a healthy waist circumference is considered to be no higher than
88 centimetes for women, and 102 centimetres for men. People with an apple
shape tend to gain weight mainly in the abdominal area, while those with a pear
shape tend to gain weight mainly in their hips and buttocks. The excess fat
in the abdominal area is what puts people with an “apple” body shape
at increased risk, said Dr. Després. That’s because fat cells (or adipose
tissue) close to the liver and other major organs are metabolically active and
release chemicals that may predispose a person to cardiometabolic complications
leading to heart disease or diabetes.

“An expanding waistline should serve as a red flag to identify people
who are potentially at greater risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes,”
said Dr. Després. “From my perspective, measuring waist circumference
should become a routine part of the overall assessment of a patient’s vital
signs – it’s as important as measuring heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol
and lipid levels.”

So, take your body shape to heart and start measuring your waist. It could
prolong your life.