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Study Finds Patients at Normal Weight With Belly Fat at Higher Death Risk Than Obese

"... distribution of the fat is very important..."

A new study from the Mayo Clinic has found that factors, like location where one carries weight, has more of an impact on death risk that amount of weight itself.

According to Mayo Clinic, which presented this research at European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich Monday, a person of normal weight but carrying a larger amount of weight in their midsection have a higher death risk than those who are obese overall.

"We knew from previous research that central obesity is bad, but what is new in this research is that the distribution of the fat is very important even in people with a normal weight," senior author and Mayo Clinic cardiologist Francisco Lopez-Jimenez said in a statement. "This group has the highest death rate, even higher than those who are considered obese based on body mass index. From a public health perspective, this is a significant finding."

Mayo Clinic reports finding the risk of death for cardiovascular reasons was nearly three times higher in people with what was considered "central obesity" but with a normal overall body weight, compared to those who had a normal body weight and distribution. As for risk of death from any cause, this was found to be twice as high in subjects with this body composition.

Researchers say the risk associated with this group could be due to a higher amount of visceral fat that could lead to insulin resistance. Fat stored elsewhere, like on the hips and legs on the other hand, cardiovascular research fellow Karine Sahakyan said, is "fat with presumed protective effects."

With this analysis, the researchers state that while it is important for patients to know their BMI (body mass index), distribution of the weight is also important to evaluate for overall health.

Featured image Shutterstock.com.

(H/T: EurekAlert)

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