Minimize Your Middle

Published 01/22 2008 10:53AM

Updated 07/28 2010 01:41PM

Minimize Your Middle
When it comes to heart-disease risk, research shows that where you carry fat ? NOT necessarily how much fat you?re carrying ? markedly increases the risk of calcium and plaque buildup in the arteries of the heart. Abdominal fat ? as opposed to fat around the hips ? seems to trigger a chain of inflammatory activities that translates into harmful metabolic changes and plaque buildup ? and ultimately heart disease. In other words, the bigger your belly is in relationship to your hips (this is known as the ?waist-to-hip ratio?) is a better indicator of early signs of heart disease than other common measures of overweight and obesity, such as body mass index (BMI) and height/weight charts.

Know your waist-to-hip ratio. Here?s how it works:

  • While standing, use a tape measure to measure your waist in inches at its smallest point OR at your navel (without holding in or pushing out your tummy).
  • Next, measure your hips in inches at the widest area.
  • Lastly, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

For example, if your waist measures 38? and your hips measure 38? ? you?re 1.0.

Ideal waist-to-hip ratio:

  • For men, .9 or less is considered safe.
  • For women, .8 or less is considered safe.

For both men and women, 1.0 or higher is considered ?at risk? for heart disease

The good news is that even small improvements prove to be beneficial. Lose an inch or two off your waist and you?re already better off.

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