Watch out for belly fat!

No one likes fat jiggly arms or a fat derriere with matching thighs. But the worst kind of fat — as in the most dangerous for your health — is belly fat. It’s so dangerous that a fat tummy can increase your risk for a premature death, especially if you are a normal weight. Put simply, belly fat is bad fat. It has been linked to a host of health problems, including high cholesterol, inflammation, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Belly fat is far worse than having the same amount of fat around your hips or thighs. How much is too much? For good health, men’s waistlines should be no more than 40 inches, while women’s waists should not exceed 34 inches. If your waist measures more than this — and even if you are of normal weight — you are considered obese. The study found:

  • Normal weight adults with extra stomach fat have the worst long-term survival, regardless of BMI.
  • Normal weight men with bigger bellies appear to fare even worse than slender women with more tummy fat. Specifically, a normal weight male with more fat around the waist had an 87 percent increased risk of death during the study period compared with a man who was normal weight without extra belly fat.
  • Compared to overweight or obese men (as measured solely by BMI, without specific waist size information), a normal weight man with extra belly fat had more than twice the risk of dying early.
  • Normal weight women with extra belly fat had nearly a 50 percent increased risk of death during the study period versus a normal weight woman whose weight was more equally distributed throughout her body.
  • Compared to obese women (measured by BMI only), the normal weight women with belly fat had a 32 percent higher risk of early death.