Study: Larger waist associated with greater risk of death

CHICAGO A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those with a larger waist size more likely are at greater risk of dying from any cause over a nine-year period.

Eric J. Jacobs, Ph.D., and colleagues at the American Cancer Society, Atlanta, examined the association between waist circumference and risk of death among 48,500 men and 56,343 women ages 50 years and older. All had participated in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, for which they completed a mailed questionnaire about demographic, medical and behavioral factors in 1992 or 1993 and provided information about weight and waist circumference in 1997. Deaths and their causes were tracked through the National Death Index until Dec. 31, 2006; a total of 9,315 men and 5,332 women died during this timeframe.

After adjusting for body mass index and other risk factors, very large waists (120 centimeters or 47 inches or larger in men, and 110 centimeters or 42 inches or larger in women) were associated with approximately twice the risk of death during the study period. A larger waist was associated with higher risk of death across all categories of BMI, including normal weight, overweight and obese; however, among women, the association was strongest for those at a normal weight.

“The reason for the stronger association between waist circumference and mortality among women with low BMI in our study is unclear,” the authors wrote. “Future detailed analyses of the relationship between waist circumference and visceral adipose tissue or measures of insulin resistance within categories of BMI could identify biological reasons for potential differences in the strength of the association between waist circumference and mortality.”

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