When you're standing next to someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day and you're thinking that you are still healthier than he or she is, think again.
A study indicates that excess belly fat is as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. But don't go exercising those love handles off just yet. And thinner folks listen up: Even you can be at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control study followed 12,785 Americans for 14 years and found that even those of normal weight who had excessive visceral fat were approximately 50 percent more likely to die prematurely from all causes compared with those who are obese.
“This study isn't about the fat you can grab. It's about adipose fat, or the fat that surrounds the internal organs,” said Jeffrey Bost of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery.
“You're at risk if your waist size is larger than your hip size. Even someone who seemingly had a normal weight still had a higher risk,” Bost said.
The fat was measured by comparing waist-to-hip ratios. The risk of dying during the CDC study period was 2.1 times higher for those with normal BMI and high waist-to-hip ratio than for people of normal weight and waist ratio.