The latest research on the association of body fat and the risk of death was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a very prestigious publication (Pischon T, et al, 2008). Most of the studies in the past have relied on the body mass index (BMI) and only few have examined if it is important where the fat is distributed.
This study however, which was really large, it included 359,387 participants from nine countries in Europe, looked at both BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio as it relates to the risk of death. The follow-up was 9.7 years.
The lowest risks of death were observed at a BMI of 25.3 for men and 24.3 for women. The researchers also found that waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio were strongly associated with the risk of death, the bigger waist circumference and the bigger waist-to-hip ratio, the higher was the risk of death.
The investigations concluded that both general adiposity and abdominal adiposity are associated with the risk of death.
Pischon T, et al. General and abdominal adiposity and risk of death in Europe. N Engl J Med. 2008 Nov 13;359(20):2105-20.