The previous understanding that people carrying excess fat around their waist, typically known as ‘apple shape’, are at a greater risk of a heart attack than those who carry fat elsewhere on the body, is being challenged.
Earlier research had claimed that those who were obese and carrying the weight centrally had a three times greater risk of a heart attack than people with general obesity (weight spread throughout their body).
However this is challenged by a study published in the Lancet, which was conducted by the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration (a consortium of 200 scientists from 17 countries led from the University of Cambridge, UK). The international study involved over 220,000 adults, each monitored for almost a decade, of which 14,000 developed a heart attack or stroke during the monitoring period. The research identifies that body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio each had a similar impact on the risk of subsequent heart attack and strokes. A further finding was that BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, whether assessed individually or in combination, do not improve the risk prediction of cardiovascular disease for peopled in developed countries when additional information is available for blood pressure, history of diabetes, and lipids.
According to Professor Holgate of the Medical Research Council, he reiterates the point that the main worry with obesity is that it leads to other illnesses. Around 60% of type 2 diabetes and 20% of heart disease cases are attributed to excess body fat. The number of UK adults who are obese has risen by 50% in the past decade, with the worrying issue that obesity in children continues to grow at an alarming rate.