Why pot bellied people are at highest health risk

Last Updated: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 14:13

Washington: People, who have excessive abdominal fat are more likely to acquire heart disease and cancer than individuals having similar body mass index (BMI) but carrying their fat in other places, a study has revealed.

Death and disease risk associated with excess body weight can vary among individuals with similar BMI. Ectopic fat, or fat located where it is not supposed to be, in this case being visible in the abdominal area, could be the cause of this difference in risk.

Kathryn A. Britton, MD, MPH, lead author of the study and an instructor of medicine at Brigham and Women`s Hospital in Boston, said that given the worldwide obesity epidemic, identification of high-risk individuals is important, as it allows targeting of preventive and therapeutic measures.

With this study, researchers sought to find a link between the location of body fat and specific risk factors for heart disease and cancer, which could explain why individuals with different body types and similar BMIs have varied obesity related health conditions.

Researchers assessed ectopic fat in the abdominal area, around the heart tissue and around the aortic artery of 3,086 participants from the Framingham Heart Study and followed the participants for heart disease and cancer for up to seven years. The average age of participants was 50 years and nearly half were women.

Each patient was assessed, using a CT scan to identify areas of fat accumulation. Over the follow-up period, patients were assessed for heart disease, cancer and death risk while adjusting for standard risk factors.

Overall, there were 90 cardiovascular events, 141 cancer cases and 71 deaths. Abdominal fat, which is typically an indicator of fat around internal organs, was associated with incident heart disease and cancer after adjusting for clinical risk factors and general obesity.

The study has been published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


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First Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 14:13

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