Body shape 'can affect life expectancy', say scientists

Caroline Cassidy

It would be fair to say that not all women are fond of their curves, but having a big bottom could turn out to be good news. According to scientists, a pear-shaped figure could add 10 years onto your life expectancy.

Pear-shaped body could add 10 years to your life
Pear-shaped body could add 10 years to your life

Pic: Getty

Analysis carried out by former government advisor Margaret Ashwell revealed that where you carry your weight could be just as important as how much you are carrying. And while it may be good news for pear-shaped bodies, there's bad news for those with an apple-shaped figure.

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A 30-year-old woman with a small waist and big bottom can expect to live nine-and-a-half years longer than one who is storing fat around the middle. And chaps with a washboard stomach can expect to live almost 17 years longer than a 30-year-old counterpart with a beer belly.

Dr Ashwell, who worked with mathematicians from London's City University, said though fat around the middle can sometimes be hidden, because it wraps around organs and produces hormones that affect blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke was significantly increased.

Having analysed 20 years-worth of data on 3,000 British men and women, Dr Ashwell suggested that waist-to-height ratio could be more important than BMI.

According to the Daily Mail, she said: "By using waist-to-height ratio, you are measuring the central fat and that's the bad fat, so therefore you are getting a handle on how bad things are."
She added: "This study supports the simple message 'Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height'.

"The use of weight-to-height ratio in public health screening, with appropriate action, could help add years to life."

What do you think? Should healthcare professionals begin using weight-to-height ratio instead of BMI to better advise on potential health problems? Leave your comments below...