Spare tyre more dangerous than being obese: research
A spare tyre round the middle of an otherwise average-sized body is more dangerous than being fat all over, research has shown.
The startling discovery was made by scientists who analysed data on 15,184 American men and women with an average age of 45.
Over a period of 14 years, normal weight individuals with bulging middles had a worse survival record than participants officially classified as overweight or obese.
Men in this category were twice as likely to die as others defined as overweight or obese by their body mass index (BMI).
For women, the effect of a spare tyre was less pronounced but still increased the risk of death by up to 40%.
The US scientists wrote in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine: "Our analyses ... show that normal-weight US adults with central obesity have the worst long-term survival compared with participants with normal fat distribution, regardless of BMI category, even after adjustment for potential mediators. The researchers said "spare tyre" obesity was associated with the accumulation of "visceral" fat around internal organs, which is known to be especially harmful to health.
Excess visceral fat was associated with insulin resistance - which can lead to diabetes - higher levels of cholesterol and blood fats, and inflammation.