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.