Excess abdominal fat is associated with a substantial increase in a person's risk of dying, even in cases when the body mass index (BMI) is within the normal range, according to a large European study (Pischon T et al. N Engl J Med. 2008;359:2105-2120).
The study involved 359 387 individuals in 9 countries. The average age of participants (65% of whom were women) was 59.1 years at enrollment. During a mean follow-up of 9.7 years, 14 723 participants died. Besides confirming earlier findings that a higher BMI is significantly associated with mortality, the study found that among individuals with the same BMI, the risk of premature death increased as waist circumference increased.
Stephenson J. Larger Waist, Smaller Lifespan. JAMA. 2008;300(23):2717. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.850