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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingObesity has long been listed as a risk factor for heart disease. New research shows it's the size of your belly, not your overall weight that matters.
This comes back to the apple versus pear shape. It's not just how much we weigh, it's the shape that we accumulate -- where we put our fat -- that's important.
Being overweight plays an important role in heart disease. But a tape measure can outweigh the scale. A new study finds people carrying a spare tire are at a higher risk than people who carry more weight on their hips.
Simply put, a higher waist-to-hip ratio is linked to a greater risk of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries, which can eventually lead to heart attack and stroke. The study found waist-to-hip ratio is such an important factor, even people of normal weight are at risk.
However, because we all come in different shapes and sizes, there's not one perfect waist size for everyone.
The best rule of thumb is that it's very important to be at a healthy weight. And in the tale of the tape, make sure your waist is smaller than your hips.
Getting plenty of exercise and eating a balance diet will help keep you ahead of the game. A game many can win, if the waist is kept under control.
Researchers used data from more than 2,700 volunteers in the Dallas heart study. They found patients with the highest waist-to-hip ratios were twice as likely to have calcium deposits in their arteries.
To find out your waist-to-hip ratio, see the link on this page.