Body mass index is often used to determine health status and disease development potential. However, researchers from the Mayo Clinic have discovered that waist size can be a significant predictor of future problems—even among people in healthy BMI ranges.
The scientists culled data from 11 studies that included 650,386 white adults aged 20–83. At a 9-year follow-up, 78,268 participants had died.
“After accounting for age, study, BMI, smoking status, alcohol consumption, and physical activity, a strong positive linear association of waist circumference with all-cause mortality was observed for men and women,” the authors reported.
The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2014; 89 , 335–45), also stated that life expectancy decreased by 3 years and 5 years, respectively, among men and women with the largest waist circumferences.
“In white adults, higher waist circumference was positively associated with higher mortality at all levels of BMI. . . . Waist circumference should be assessed in combination with BMI, even for those in the normal BMI range, as part of risk assessment for obesity-related premature mortality.”