You know that being obese is bad for your health – but did you know that where you carry the fat could have a major impact on your health?
A new study finds that carrying a few extra pounds around your tummy can be dangerous, even for people with an overall healthy weight. In fact, people who have a normal BMI but a pot belly could be at greater risk of premature death than those who are obese.
Researchers found that men who had a normal BMI but a big belly were more than twice as likely to die compared to obese men. And women with a normal weight and a potbelly were 32 percent more likely to die than obese women.
What makes stomach fat so deadly?
Just as there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, it seems there is good fat and bad fat. And stomach fat is the most deadly.
Lead researcher Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic, told USA Today: "The fat around the belly might look the same under the microscope as fat from the arms or legs, but it's much more active."
Stomach fat is particularly dangerous because it is often deposited in the liver and can cause inflammation that could lead to diabetes and heart disease.
Should you be worried?
So just how big a tummy is a problem? Your waist-hip ratio should offer a clue.
To calculate your waist-hip ratio, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. According to the World Health Organization, men have "central obesity" if their waist-hip ratio is 0.9 or more. For women, central obesity is defined as a ratio of 0.85 or more.
There is some good news for pear-shaped women and men who carry their weight below the waistline. Researchers say this fat may even offer some protection to your heart, although they're not sure why.
Need to trim down your tummy? These top fitness picks might help:
Weighted exercise hoola-hop, £7.90, eBay
Fitbit Charge large, £79, Tesco
Slendertone Abs5 Unisex, £89.99, Tesco