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A very simple pair of measurements gives a good indicator of potential for cardiovascular disease risk.

If your height is less than two times your waist measurement then you are significantly more likely (up to 11 times more likely) to have a higher cardiovascular disease risk than those people whose height is more than twice their waist.

These results come from a study Waist-to-height ratio: a simple option for determining excess central adiposity in young people, carried out by Drs. S. P. Garnett, L. A. Baur and C. T. Cowell and reported in the International Journal of Obesity (2008).

Everyone knows their height. Measure your waist in the same units (inches, or cm, for example) and divide the waist measurement into the height measurement. So, if you are 5 feet 7 inches tall that’s 67 inches, and if your waist is 36 inches then your height to waist ratio is 67/36 = 1.9, marginally below 2. If you are 5 feet 2 inches (= 62 inches) with a 38 inch waist then your height to waist ratio is a low 1.6

With a low height to waist ratio you know you aren’t going to get any taller – unless you are a kid, still growing – so the only way to increase the height to weight ratio to 2 or more is … you guessed it, lose weight to reduce that belly fat, which, as we already know, is an organ, sending out hormonal messages to the rest of your body.

Here’s a height-waist chart inidicating the maximum waist measurement for a given height that gives a height-waist ratio of 2 or greater:

See also:

Short And Fat Is Beautiful, As Required By Massachusetts State Law

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Sure enough. Chris says it about as straight as anyone can.

Check out his blog on fat people.

Belly fat might look like it’s just hanging there, wobblng during walking, and blocking a clear view of the feet, but there’s much more to belly fat.

I use the technical term “belly fat” but what the heck, we might as well call it by its everyday name: “adipose tissue”.

This adipose tissue is most definitely not just sitting there doing nothing but making life heavier. Belly fat is an organ, believe it or not!

Adiopose tissue is made up of brown fat cells that generate heat, and are generally thought of as pretty good for weight regulation.

Then there are the white fat cells, around 30 billion or so even in thin people.

White fat cells don’t just sit there doing nothing. Oh, no! They are actively sending out signals via hormones to the rest of your body. For example, white fat cells convert steroids, that would help build muscle, into estrogen. White fat cells compete for nutrients in the body and slow down muscle build-up.

Belly fat secretes hormones, which are chemical messengers, taking a signal from one group of cells to another group of cells. In other words, your belly fat is talking to the rest of your body!

Two hormones secreted by belly fat are leptin and resistin.

Leptin was discovered in 1994 by Jeffrey Friedman and his colleagues at Rockefeller University. Its main role seems to be regulation of energy, both intake and expenditure. Leptin regulates appetite and metabolism.

Resistin was discovered in 2001 by Mitchell Lazar and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania. It seems to be involved in reducing the effect of insulin on fat cells, in inflammation, and in energy balance.

Much research is still being done on the roles of these belly fat hormones.

So, belly fat is most definitely not just sitting there doing nothing. It is an active organ, sending poweful hormonal signals thoughout the body.

Try to be aware of what your belly fat is saying to you, and … eat responsibly!

Have you noticed that fat people come in different shapes? Some fat people are fat all over, while others, often guys, have very fat bellies only.

Is a fat belly phat?

Apparently not, according to the research of Dr. Rachel Whitmer, of Kaiser Permanente, Division of Research, Etiology and Prevention, Oakland, California.

She recently carried out a study of over 6,500 overweight people to figure out the long-term effects of excess belly fat on dementia. (The epidemiology of adiposity and dementia. Current Alzheimer Research, 2007 April;4(2):117-22).

Her long-term prospective study indicates that excess belly fat, to the point of being overweight or obese, as measured by body mass index and skinfold thickness, substantially increases the likelihood of dementia later in life.

On the other hand, she reports : “Weight loss in late life however is associated with dementia, and those categorized as underweight are also at a greater risk of dementia.”

The moral seems to be: if you want to reduce your chances of dementia in later life – and who wouldn’t ? – reduce that belly fat, and don’t become excessively thin.

Strive for a balance, get some exercise and, as always, eat responsibly.

______________________________________________________________

Neurology

Published online before print March 26, 2008

Received August 15, 2007

Accepted December 14, 2007

Central obesity and increased risk of dementia more than three decades later

R. A. Whitmer PhD*, D. R. Gustafson PhD, E. Barrett-Connor MD, M. N. Haan DrPH, E. P. Gunderson PhD, and K. Yaffe MD

From Kaiser Permanente Division of Research (R.A.W., E.P.G.), Oakland, CA; Goteberg University (D.R.G.), Goteberg, Sweden; the Department of Family Medicine (E.B.-C.), University of California, La Jolla; the Department of Epidemiology (M.N.H.), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology and Epidemiology (K.Y.), University of California, San Francisco.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rachel.whitmer@kp.org.

Background: Numerous reports show that a centralized distribution of adiposity is a more dangerous risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes than total body obesity. No studies have evaluated whether the same pattern exists with dementia. The objective was to evaluate the association between midlife central obesity and risk of dementia three decades later.

Methods: A longitudinal analysis was conducted of 6,583 members of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California who had their sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD) measured in 1964 to 1973. Diagnoses of dementia were from medical records an average of 36 years later, January 1, 1994, to June 16, 2006. Cox proportional hazard models adjusted for age, sex, race, education, marital status, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, stroke, heart disease, and medical utilization were conducted.

Results: A total of 1,049 participants (15.9%) were diagnosed with dementia. Compared with those in the lowest quintile of SAD, those in the highest had nearly a threefold increased risk of dementia (hazard ratio, 2.72; 95% CI, 2.33–3.33), and this was only mildly attenuated after adding body mass index (BMI) to the model (hazard ratio, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.58–2.35). Those with high SAD (>25 cm) and normal BMI had an increased risk (hazard ratio, 1.89; 95% CI, 0.98–3.81) vs those with low SAD (<25 cm) and normal BMI (18.5–24.9 kg/m2), whereas those both obese (BMI >30 kg/m2) and with high SAD had the highest risk of dementia (HR, 3.60; 95% CI, 2.85–4.55).

Conclusions: Central obesity in midlife increases risk of dementia independent of diabetes and cardiovascular comorbidities. Fifty percent of adults have central obesity; therefore, mechanisms linking central obesity to dementia need to be unveiled.

I’ve noticed that fat people tend to hang out together. Assuming I’m right, is it because they seek each other out, finding like-bodied people attractive, or is it because you’re more likely to get fat by hanging out with a fat person?

Drs. Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler addressed this and found that, as I thought, overweight and obese people tend to cluster. They found that a person’s likelihood of becoming obese increased dramatically (by more than half) if they had an obese friend. Obese siblings and obese spouses also increased people’s likelihood of becoming obese.

Their conclusion is that obesity seems to spread through social ties.

So what I see in Applebee’s, when two or three really overweight girls sit down for lunch, is a social group in which the girls are reaffirming each others right, and desire, to become and stay fat.

So, yes, it does seem that fat people come in threes.

Because being grossly overweight or obese has serious health implications, the social networking effect on weight is something that should be discussed by health professionals if a person desires to lose weight.

Eat out with friends, and … eat responsibly!

Writing in the International Journal of Obesity, Dr. Rebecca M. Puhl has found substantial discrimination against overweight people. You can read a summary at MedlinePlus.

Dr. Puhl reports that weight discrimination in America is close to rates of racial discrimination for women.

Weight discrimination can involve being called names to being turned down for employment on the basis of weight. Like any other form of discrimination, weight discrimination is personally distressing, and should be both illegal and not tolerated.

Amy Norton, of Reuters Health, reports: “Of the men and women who reported weight discrimination, 60 percent said they had experienced work-related discrimination, such as not being hired, being passed over for promotion, or being wrongly fired.”

Treat each other kindly folks, and eat responsibly!

The International Obesity Task Force writes that being overweight or obese increases the risk of a number of health conditions. These include the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoarthritis
  • High total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Breast and colon cancer

None of these is much fun. My own blood pressure is mildly elevated – around 135/90. My wife Linda had a scare with a micro-cluster of calcifications in her breast, picked up at a routine mammogram. She was treated at the Avon Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, and cannot speak highly enough of the wonderful physicians and nursing professionals at Mass General.

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise. At a personal level, my brother-in-law, in Australia, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes some years ago. He is over 300 pounds and around 5″ 10″. This has dramatically affected what he eats – no more huge plates of meat and mashed potatoes – and what he drinks: a glass of wine, and no beer.

My friend and colleague David Tall is grossly overweight, mainly because he has been on steroids for years to treat sarcoidosis. He developed both type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea several years ago.

The Encyclopedia of Surgery reports that 300,000 people die in the United States each year from weight-related causes. This is more than 8 times a capacity crowd at Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. That’s a lot of people to die, probably unnecessarily in most cases.

Take care out there folks, and eat responsibly!