Apples, Pears & Risk of Death

Are you an apple or a pear? Could your big belly shorten your life?

Conventional wisdom tells us that the shape of our body and where we store fat can drastically alter our health outlook. For example, apple shapes – people who carry their weight around their middles – have long been thought to have a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, when compared to the general population. But recent research suggests that this risk might be overstated and that excess fat anywhere on the body raises disease risk equally.

Body mass index (BMI), the most commonly accepted measure of obesity, has long been criticized because it doesn’t take into account body composition. Because it only uses height and weight, it can classify muscular people as overweight or obese.

So a father-son team of researchers from New York have come up a new tool – the A Body Shape Index (ABSI).

This formula takes into account waist circumference (WC), BMI, and height.

In a study of  more than 14,000 adults, above average ABSIs correlated with a higher risk of premature death — even when adjusted for risk factors like smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol. Regardless of age, gender, BMI, and ethnicity, elevated death rates were found for both high and low BMIs and WCs.  This led the researchers to conclude that both measures are inaccurate for predicting premature death risk.

Measuring body dimensions is straightforward compared to other most medical tests, but it’s been challenging to link these with health,” says researcher Nir Krakauer, assistant professor in the department of civil engineering at the City College of New York.

The bottom line of all this?  It’s not just belly fat that can kill you, excess pounds anywhere can have an adverse effect on health.

However, before you throw in the towel or start ordering your coffin, other studies suggest you shouldn’t worry if have a bit of junk in the trunk!  According to new research from Oxford University, fat in the thighs and buttocks might actually help protect you from metabolic disease and a Danish study even found that people with thin thighs have a greater risk of premature death.

What’s your body shape, and how do you feel about it? We look forward to hearing from you.

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