Belly Fat Worse Than Obesity, Says Study

A new study recently released revealed that people are normal weight but carry a few pounds around their midsection have a higher risk from dying from heart disease than those who are simply classified as obese.

The study was presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich on Monday and stated that fat around the organs or abdomen, also known as visceral fat, can be extremely bad for one's health.

"Our research shows that if a person has a normal BMI, this by itself should not reassure them that their risk for heart disease is low. Where their fat is distributed on their body can mean a lot," Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, study researcher and cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, said at the meeting.

The study involved 12,785 U.S. adults who participated in a national survey and were followed for an average of 14 years. During that time, 2,562 participants died, including 1,138 from heart disease.

The risk of cardiovascular death was 2.75 times greater and the chance of death from any cause was 2.08 times higher among normal-weight people with greater visceral fat, as opposed to normal-weight people who had a normal waist-to-hip ratio.

Researchers separated the study participants as normal weight if their body mass index (BMI) was between 18.5 and 24.9 percent. Participants were considered overweight if their body mass index was 25 to 29.9 percent and considered obese if their body mass index was above 30 percent.

The amount of weight around participant's waists was determined by their waist-to-hip ratio.

Participants with normal BMI but a high waist-to-hip ratio had the highest risk of dying from any causes among the six groups.

"The high risk of death may be related to a higher visceral fat accumulation in this group, which is associated with insulin resistance and other risk factors," said Dr. Karine Sahakyan, study researcher at the Mayo Clinic, according to

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