A fact-based revelation…
Waist size has been linked in the past with heart disease and diabetes. But few studies have looked at the link between waist circumference and risk of death from any cause across different categories of BMI or for the huge waistlines that are becoming increasingly common. It appears a big waist nearly doubles a person's risk of an early death from many causes, such as cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illness and the risk is increased even among people who aren't overweight. In other words, by packing on only a few extra pounds, you could significantly increase your risk of premature death.
In fact, for women, the association between a plus-size waist and greater risk of early death was strongest in those with a normal body mass index, or BMI, according to a study involving more than 100,000 people.
It should be noted that waist circumference is strongly related to the amount of fat tissue deep in the abdomen which is a particularly bad place to have fat. This deep layer of fat, called visceral fat, wraps around internal organs in the abdomen. It's considered far more "pathogenic," or more likely to cause disease than subcutaneous fat (fat just beneath the skin that a person can pinch). Some researchers say visceral fat is so metabolically active, it should be considered an organ unto itself. Visceral fat is linked with higher circulating levels of cholesterol, insulin and substances that cause inflammation.
This pattern of increasing risk with increasing waist size seems to be true in every category of weight, including normal weight, overweight and obese. Even if your weight is considered normal for your height, and you haven't noticed a big weight gain, if your waist size is starting to increase; if you're having to move into a bigger pant size; that's an important sign that it's time to start eating better and exercising more.
The waist-to-hip measurement
According to researchers, the best way to predict heart attack risk and other obesity-related diseases is a measurement that divides the circumference of your waist by your hips. If you’re a woman, the waist-to-hip ratio should come out as no more than 0.8. Men have a little more wiggle room: a healthy waist-to-hip ratio for them is 0.95.
This means, if your belly has bulged out enough to catch up to the size of your hips, you should start worrying about your heart, experts say. In other words, fat on a woman’s hips doesn’t seem to increase risk, whereas a beer belly does. This fat stored in the belly is the most dangerous type of fat in our bodies.
The waist-to-hip measurement is likely to catch people at risk for fat-related diseases who might otherwise think they were at a healthy weight, based on their BMI scores. It’s quite possible to have an acceptable BMI and still have some belly paunch.
Therefore, you can be thin and still have too much fat!