What Belly Fat May Mean for Your Health

Diabetes, heart disease risk was raised in people with higher waist-to-hip ratio

(RxWiki News) If having a high waist-to-hip ratio is in your genetics, you may also have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to a new study.

Being overweight or obese has long been considered a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but this study looked at the distribution of weight on the body. And the Massachusetts General Hospital researchers behind this study found that weight distribution may matter.

The waist-to-hip ratio is an indicator of how fat is distributed on the body. People with a higher waist-to-hip ratio are more likely to have fat around the belly than in other areas.

These researchers looked at more than 334,000 participants from past studies. They found that those who had a genetic predisposition to a higher waist-to-hip ratio were more likely than those who didn't to also have markers for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

If waist-to-hip ratio, adjusted for body mass index (BMI), proves to be a useful indicator of diabetes and heart disease risk, which could help health care providers better care for patients who may be at risk, these researchers noted.

Lifestyle factors like a healthy diet, regular exercise and not smoking can affect your risk for health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Talk to your doctor about how to safely help lower your risk.

This study was published in JAMA.

Information on study funding sources and potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.