Maintaining a healthy weight is a known preventative measure to reduce your risk of heart disease. But more specifically, where you carry your fat plays a large role in your heart disease risk too.
You see, there are different body shapes and each body type can reveal insight into your health. The three main common body shapes are often referred to and compared to a pear, hourglass, and an apple. To picture these body shapes, it’s important to imagine the shape of a pear (heavier on the bottom), an apple (round in the middle), or hourglass (thin in the middle but top and bottom heavy).
It is well known that being apple-shaped increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, because, in this body shape, accumulation is mainly in the abdomen area.
A recent study has revealed that apple-shaped women, more so than men, are at a greater risk for heart disease.
The researchers looked at heart disease risk in over 500,000 women and men aged 40 to 69 and followed them for seven years. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and other factors were measured.
Researcher Sanne Peters explained, “The new finding of our study is that the extent to which waist-to-hip ratio is associated with risk of heart disease is greater in women than in men. We found the risk increased consistently as the ratio increased.”
The researchers found that even with the lowest hip-to-waist ratio, with every 0.09 increase, the risk of heart disease in women increased by 50 percent. Among men, the increase in risk was 36 percent. For women, a larger waist-to-hip ratio was associated with a 10 to 20 percent higher risk of heart disease than having a higher BMI.
A waist-to-hip ratio of over 0.85 in women and 0.9 in men is considered abdominal obesity according to the World Health Organization. The research study suggests even with a hip-to-waist ratio is below those levels your risk of heart disease increase with every increment gain in abdominal fat.
Therefore, although losing weight is beneficial for a healthy heart, it’s more important to lose fat as it is a more predominant risk factor for developing heart disease.
You can reduce belly fat by eating more whole grains, focusing on consuming healthy fats, exercising regularly, managing stress, and increasing your sleep.