Your weight can affect your health, but so can your body size, according to a new report.
Researchers from the University of Iowa, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and other U.S. health institutions conducted a study to determine the association between waist circumference and overall health.
To do so, they gathered data from the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term assessment that focuses on strategies to prevent heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, and osteoporosis among older women. They tracked the health of 156,624 postmenopausal women for more than 20 years, recording the subjects’ weight, diet and physical activity.
The researchers found those with an apple shape, or a waist circumference of 35 inches or more, had an increased risk for health issues. In fact, those with more belly fat were 31% more likely to die prematurely from illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, compared to those without the extra belly fat.
“Our results highlight the inability of BMI alone to distinguish body shape or body fat distribution,” the team wrote in the study.
The scientists say want to continue their investigations to create interventions. “Future research is needed to develop and test the effectiveness of interventions to reduce risk owing to excess body fat among people with normal-weight central obesity,” they said.