Hip size may be the key to link between obesity and premature death

A research team led by Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute has for the first time demonstrated that the effect of obesity on the risk of premature death is seriously underestimated unless a person's hip circumference is taken into account.

By looking at the relationship between waist and hip circumference* in a 20-year study of almost 8000 Mauritians, the research is also the first ever study to link obesity to mortality in a South Asian population.

The study was a collaboration between researchers from Australia, Sweden, Mauritius, Finland, the UK and Denmark, with the findings just published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Good evidence now exists to show that the fat tissue in the hip has quite different metabolic properties in comparison with fat tissue around the waist and is in fact protective against such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Higher hip circumference can also reflect greater .

"We knew that higher hip circumference was protective against such as diabetes as well as death. However, we did not know that taking waist and hip circumference into account separately (as opposed to using the waist-to-hip ratio*) would reveal such a powerful association between obesity and ," said lead author of the study, Dr Adrian Cameron from Deakin University.

"In other words, a person with big hips and a small waist is at the lowest end of the risk scale and people with small hips and a large waist are at the highest risk.

"By accounting for the protective effect of hip circumference, we are able to isolate the negative of central (abdominal) obesity which is measured by the . It appears that this form of obesity is more dangerous than we ever thought, particularly in this South Asian population," concurred Associate Professor Stefan Söderberg from Umeå University, Sweden.

"I think we all need to realise that the waist circumference is only half the story when it comes to obesity. Hip circumference is clearly just as important and when we consider them both, that's when we see just how dangerous obesity really is," concluded Professor Paul Zimmet, Director Emeritus and Director International Research at Baker IDI. Prof. Zimmet initiated the study in Mauritius almost 25 years ago.

More information: ije.oxfordjournals.org/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Apple shaped obesity as bad for heart as other obesity

Mar 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- An international study of 220,000 people has challenged the idea that obese people who have an “apple shape” (fat deposits on the middle section of the body) are at higher risk of ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

22 minutes ago

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

24 minutes ago

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

7 hours ago

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments