New research looked at the waist size data from over 2.5 million people and aims to prove that waist circumference can accurately determine obesity. The study reveals that chunky thighs and big hips can help people live longer while beer belly raises the risk of early death even if the rest of the body is slim.

The study, published this week in the British Medical Journal, found that in every four inches (10cm) of waist size, there is an 11% chance higher than a person could succumb to an early death. Many academics believe that the circumference of the waist effectively indicates obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease compared to the commonly-used body mass index (BMI).

Belly Fat Indicator of Obesity and Other Diseases

The fat around the waist, called visceral fat, lies around the vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, intestines, and the pancreas. Tauseef Ahmed Khan, study author and researcher from the University of Toronto's department of nutritional sciences, said that people should not only be focused on their BMI but also to their waist.

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He said that the waist is a better indicator of belly fat and although one cannot determine what part of the body loses fat, exercising and proper diet will still burn fat in the waist and, therefore, also the belly fat.

Dr. Khan added that excess of belly fat is linked to cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. That means more belly fat a person has, the higher their risk of dying early from these diseases.

The researchers said that even after BMI was taken into account, abdominal fat was still 'significantly and positively associated with higher all-cause mortality risk.'

But they also find an inverse relationship between chunky thighs and big hips and mortality risk.

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Chunky Thighs and Big Hips Lower Risk of Early Death

The study was based on 72 reviews that involved more than 2.5 million people tracked between three and 24 years. All these studies reported that there are at least three measures of central fatness: waist circumference, thigh circumference, hip circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio, waist-to-thigh ratio, and body adiposity index, which measures the body mass based on the fat tissue in the body.

The study reveals that each 10cm increase in the hip circumference is associated with a 10% lower risk of death. A 5cm increase in thigh circumference is associated with an 18 percent lower risk.

Dr. Khan added that fats in the hips are considered beneficial, while thigh size indicates a small amount of muscle. Moreover, the risks of the belly were similar when accounting BMI which suggests that the person with more belly fat has a higher risk of dying early.

According to the NHS, men should try to lose weight regardless of their BMI or height if their waist measures above 37 inches (94cm), while women should exercise if their waist is above 31.5 inches (80cm).

Read More: Early Exposure to a High-Fat Diet Ages Liver, Medical Experts Say

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