Why to watch your waistline.

More evidence emerges confirming how our waistlines are a guide to health risk, this time indicating the risk of cardiovascular disease, even in healthy active men. Indeed, according to a new study, physically active men who are not overweight but who have a relatively high waist/height/stature ratio are more likely to develop heart disorders.

Previous studies have highlighted the health risks associated with excess abdominal fat. However, this new study also suggests that such individuals are not the only ones at higher risk, finding that physically active men who were not overweight, but whose waist-stature ratio (WSR) was close to the risk threshold (a waistline more than half their height) were also more likely to develop heart disorders than individuals with lower WSRs.

Surprising as it may seem, the researchers found that non-overweight, physically active, healthy individuals without a history of metabolic or cardiovascular disease but with higher WSRs were more likely to develop heart disorders than individuals with less accumulated fat in the waist area. They established this by measuring the autonomic heart rate recovery time; the longer the heart rate takes to return to normal indicating a higher significant risk of developing a heart disorder. This seems to suggest once again the WSR (waist circumference divided by height) is a more accurate predictor of cardiovascular risk than the body mass index (BMI).

Take the String Test to check how close you are to the risk threshold: measure out a piece of string to match your height. Then fold it in two and put it round your waist. This fun video shows you how.

If the string doesn’t make it around your waist, this will be a warning about how much damaging visceral fat you are carrying. However, if the string fits around the waist – or is even loose, your waist to height ratio is where it should be.

To help add years to your life, keep your waist circumference to less than half your height.

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