As we age, even those who fall into the “normal weight” range, can have a belly that bulges. While it can be a vanity issue for us, it can also kill us.
So says a study published Monday that found that belly bulge can be deadly for older adults.
It examined the dangers of abdominal fat and notes that those of us with the biggest waistlines have twice the risk of dying over a decade compared to those with the smaller tummies.
And that doesn’t mean for just those of us who are overweight. Bigger waists carry a greater risk also for people whose weight is considered normal.
"Even if you haven’t had a noticeable weight gain, if you notice your waist size increasing that’s an important sign," said lead author Eric Jacobs of the American Cancer Society, which funded the study, in the Associated Press story. "It’s time to eat better and start exercising more."
Once we pass 50, bulging bellies are even more dangerous.
It’s estimated that more than half of older men and more than 70 percent of older women have larger waistlines than recommended. And as people have gotten fatter over the years, waistlines have grown to new proportions. Average waistlines have expanded by about an inch per decade in the last 50 years.
Click here to read the full Associated Press story on the study
So what are we to do?
First you need to measure your belly bulge. Scary, I know, since facing the truth can hurt. But denial can hurt us more.
Grab a tape measure and wrap it around your waist at belly-button level. And, for once, don’t suck in your gut.
AP’s medical writer Carla K. Johnson wrote that men should have a waist circumference no larger than 40 inches. For us gals, the limit is 35 inches.
Four inches doesn’t sound like a lot, but that much extra on your waistline increases the risk of dying 15 to 25 percent. Oddly, Johnson’s story explained, the strongest link — 25 percent — was in women with normal BMI (Body Mass Index).
Why is extra fat around the middle so dangerous?
People with bigger waists have a higher risk from such ailments as respiratory illnesses, heart disease and cancer.
So whether your girth is top to bottom like me or you are apple-shaped and carry most of your weight around the middle, this is something to really pay attention to.
This is about more than just pants and skirts that feel tight. It’s a matter of life and death.
Excuse me while I go find my tape measure …