Knowing Your Waist-to-Hip Ratio

(CNN) — The size of your waistline may be key to a long life, says a recent study from the Mayo Clinic.

“People with normal weight with an enlarged waist are at high risk for death and particularly death from the heart,” said Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, cardiovascular specialist with Mayo Clinic.

That risk is higher than being obese. The culprit is the uneven distribution of fat–more in the mid-section and less in the legs and hips.

The researchers studied nearly 13,000 people. The risks more than doubled when people had normal weight plus belly fat. So experts suggest knowing your waist-to-hip ratio.

“The recommendation would be to measure the waist, measure the hip and to just divide the waist by the hip. For men, a waist-to-hip ratio equal or greater than 0.9, or 90 percent, will be considered abnormal. For women, a waist-to-hip ratio equal or greater than 0.85 or more than 85 percent will be considered abnormal,” Dr. Lopez-Jimenez said.

But there’s more.

“Regular exercise, along with a diet that is low in sugars, and low in fat, will very likely improve the distribution of the fat,” Dr. Lopez-Jimenez said.

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