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Spare Tire Could Be Fatal, Even With a Healthy BMI

In the battle of the bulge, belly fat is often a focus because of its relationship with heart disease. Just when I thought the subject of spare tires had been prodded in every way possible, new research has come out that could force more people to take their midsection more seriously. It says that even if your BMI describes your weight as normal, having a spare tire could make you twice as likely to die during a 10-year period compared to those without belly fat.

Researchers at the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition composed one of the largest long-term studies in the world to get their results — 359,387 people ages 25 to 70 from nine European countries were involved. The research indicates that overall weight isn't the only indicator in measuring mortality; waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio have a big impact on mortality risk, too.

With heart disease in mind, women should aim to keep their waist circumference below 35 inches and men shouldn't push 40 inches. Wondering if you are an apple or a pear? Check out our Waist-to-Hip calculator to determine your body type and levels of risk.


Join The Conversation
mtiger mtiger 8 years
I'm so glad this was brought up! I, like some other readers said, carry all my weight in my stomach and have a hard time losing it. I know diet and exercise are key to losing fat, but come on...there's got to be some exercises that help shrink your waist. Help, Fit (or other Fit readers)!
lawchick lawchick 8 years
well, at least there is an upside to being pear-shaped!
pandacn pandacn 8 years
It's reassuring to hear that I'm not the only one struggling with this. The abs are definitely the absolute hardest place to lose the fat. I can feel my ab muscles getting stronger the more I workout, but no matter how much cardio I do, I just can't lose the fat there. So I feel like I have a bigger waistline now b/c of more muscle underneath, but same amount of fat on top!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
I'm glad to know other people struggle with this. I'm under the 35 inches, and I have a decent bmi, but I struggle so much with my waistline. It just is absolutely the hardest place to lose weight for me! It also, aesthetically looks the worst too. I could see someone having a higher bmi than I do, and a smaller waist looking better too. So I really have two reasons I guess to lose this weight. It just honestly is impossible for me to lose. the last time I had a tiny waist, I was seriously underweight, and I still was more of a ruler than anything as far as the waist to hips ration goes.
Lilavati Lilavati 8 years
I have a spare tire too and I can't get rid of it. :( What flattens my belly most is not eating for 12 hours, which is not the healthiest thing out there. Fitsugar, I think we've got a topic request here. ;)
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
i hate hearing this. i work out 5-6 times a week, am in pretty good health and almost at my ideal weight, but still have a spare tire. I try everything to get rid of it, but it's SOOO hard. It's be great if you could spot train but really, I have skinny arms and legs and a fat belly, when I lose weight it comes from everywhere else EXCEPT my stomach. so frustrating. In the past That is usually the reason why I gave up on working out. I could never get rid of my stomach. Now I'm sticking with it, because it's better thn not!
jueycruiser jueycruiser 8 years
this really sucks because my body just stores more fat around my belly. even when i go on super diets and work out everyday for months, its the last thing to go and the first place i gain. so im destined to die early because my body is lame. fantastic.
foxie foxie 8 years
"women should aim to keep their waist circumference below 35 inches" That's a pretty generous limit. It seems like most people probably wouldn't have problems achieving/maintaining this waist size (if they were motivated to).
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
I wanted to email my ex the calculator but it didn't work... he's the one I worry about. He needs to stick around to help raise the kids!
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
It's ideal if when you take the hip measurement and the waist measurement and divide them to get a .7 As long at I have that, I don't worry.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
I'm below the maximum but since I still have extra weight I should be able to get it a couple inches smaller especially since I want to make to be in the safe range while I'm younger so it's not harder to take care of later.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i have to wait until i get home to find out but i think that i'm ok as far as my whole 'spare tire' thing goes. it's interesting to me how much things change all the time with the information that we're provided about things.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
BMI is definitely a lot more flawed than WHR when it comes to determining your overall health. I mean, come on, if you're an athlete with a BMI of 30 and your waist is only 33 inches, you're probably better off than a couch potato with a BMI of 27 and a waist of 36 inches.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
Last time I used that it told me I was a squash, which I found a little hard to interpret. Like, what kind of squash? Zucchini, butternut?
lawchick lawchick 8 years
so if my waist is much smaller than my hips, that's good?
bethinabox bethinabox 8 years
I'm glad you posted this. People take BMI so seriously, and while it is a very good indicator, it's not accurate for everyone. Waist-to-hip ratio is a really helpful thing to keep in mind in addition to BMI.
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