Are you comparatively skinny but getting a “beer belly?” Has your waistline lately disappeared into a straight line with your hips?
Then don’t be shocked at your next checkup if the nurse whips out a tape measure and covers it around your waistline — no matter how skinny you might be overall — rather than just relying on your body mass index (BMI) to determine your normal weight.
According to new guidelines published Thursday by the American Heart Association in the journal Circulation, measuring waist circumference should go hand-in-hand with stepping on a scale as part of any health assessment, according to new guidelines published Thursday by the American Heart Association.
That’s because research is showing that a protruding tummy may be a sign of what is called visceral adipose tissue, or VAT — a dangerous form of fat that wraps itself around organs deep inside your body.
“Research that has examined the link between abdominal fat and cardiovascular outcomes prove that visceral fat is a clear health hazard,” answered Dr. Tiffany Powell-Wiley, chief of the social determinants of cardiovascular risk and obesity laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
And here’s the dilemma: You can’t think you’re safe from visceral fat if your overall weight is normal, experts stress. That’s because you can have unhealthy visceral fat even if you’re not considered obese by BMI norms — and not have any visceral fat even if you are obese. You are overweight if your Body Mass Index is over 25; over 30 is considered overweight.
According to the AHA panel, the most helpful physical activity to reduce visceral obesity is aerobic exercise.
In fact, “reaching an aim of 150 minutes a week of body activity, particularly aerobic physical activity, possibly enough to help reduce abdominal fat,” said Powell-Wiley, who was the president of the AHA guidelines writing committee.