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Watch Your Waist, Not Your Weight

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Forget watching your weight, the latest key holder to your health is through your waist. According to a recent study conduction by the American Cancer Society (ACS) found that people with a wider waist had nearly double the risk of dying—from any cause—than their more slender counterparts.

The ACS study followed more than 100,000 subjects over the course of nine years and was published in The Archives of Internal Medicine. Dr. Eric J. Jacobs and his colleagues at the ACS studied a total of 48,500 men and 56,343 over that age of 50 from ’97-’06. Of the subjects who participated, 5,332 women and 9,315 men died during the study.

The findings showed that, no matter the person’s body mass index (BMI) or weight, having a larger waist was associated with a higher risk of death and disease. Not only that, women who were at a healthy weight had the strongest association between mortality risk and waist size.

“The take-home is that it’s important to watch your waist as well as your weight,” said Jacobs. “Even if your weight is normal for your height, if your waist size is increasing, if you’re moving to a bigger pant size, that’s a warning sign that it’s time to start eating better and exercising more.”

A thick waist, which was once deemed a risk factor for heart disease, is now also said to increase the risk of dying from respiratory failure, cancer and other causes.  A wide waist is attributed to fat tissue deep within the abdominal walls. This tissue can cause insulin resistance, inflammation, high cholesterol and other health problems.

Not sure how you measure?  A waist size of 47 inches in men or 42 inches for women, or larger, is considered unhealthy and can double your risk of death and disease. Lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, can help you lose some of those additional inches.  This waist-to-hip calculator from is another useful tool in judging how healthy your body is.