Live slimmer, live longer. That is at least according to a new study showing a higher risk of death for Black women who are overweight or obese. The study shows that a larger waist size is also associated with a higher risk of death.
The study, just published in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at participants from the Black Women’s Health Study Group. The 33,916 women, age 21 to 69, had never smoked and were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Researchers then evaluated the connection between their body mass index (BMI), waist size, and risk of death over a 13 year period.
The study revealed the risk of death increased an average of 18 percent for each BMI 5-unit the women increased in weight. The risk of death from cardiovascular disease was especially high. Compared with women of healthy weight (BMI under 25), the risk of death was two times higher from cardiovascular disease for overweight women (BMI of 25 to 29). It was three times higher for obese women (BMI of 30 or higher).
“The present findings indicate that the risk of death in black women increases with increasing BMI of 25 or higher, similar to the pattern in white populations,” according to lead study researcher Deborah Boggs, Sc.D., of the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University.
Besides weight, belly fat was another problem for those in the study. A larger waist size was associated with a higher risk of death for those who were overweight but not obese. Among the overweight women, a waist of over 35 inches was associated with a 55 percent higher risk of death.
The reason why, according to researchers, is that large amounts of belly fat cause inflammation, high cholesterol, diabetes and insulin resistance, among other health problems.
And like many waistlines, the problem appears to be growing.
Trends show that by the end of the decade, up to 70 percent – 90 percent of Black women may be obese or have waist sizes of at least 35 inches. That would significantly accelerate their risk of death. And not just from cardiovascular disease.
Other studies show that increases in body mass index and waist size enhance the risk of developing other diseases and conditions bringing you that much closer to the grave.
One such study released last year by the American Cancer Society shows that for both men and women, there’s a clear connection between excessive waist size and increased risk of death from cancer, respiratory failure and other causes. According to that study the risk was even higher for women of normal weight with excess belly fat.
And research published last month in another prestigious journal, The Lancet, shows that the problem is probably worldwide. Over 1.5 billion adults are now overweight and half a billion are obese.
With so many people packing on pounds, especially around their gut, Dr. Boggs emphasizes the need to stay lean and fit. Otherwise, the consequences could be serious.
“Our findings highlight the importance for women to maintain a healthy weight and keep extra inches off the waist in order to decrease their risk of death,” she advises.
Courtesy Health Living News