The Secret Your Waist Size Reveals

Your waist circumference may predict if you'll have a heart attack.

The Geneva-based World Heart Federation has determined that waist size is an important risk factor for this illness that kills 17 million people worldwide every year, report HealthDay News and the BBC News. Alarmingly, most people and many doctors don't realize this. All it takes is one minute and a tape measure to find out if you're at risk.

If your waist is larger than these numbers, then you're in the high-risk category for developing heart disease:

Men: 40 inches
Women: 35 inches

How to measure, since your waist circumference is not the same as your belt size:

  • Remove your shirt and loosen your belt.
  • Wrap a tape measure around your middle, placing it about 1 cm below your belly button.
  • Relax your abdomen and measure while breathing out with.
This very simple measurement that could have very dire consequences is something most people don't know, the World Heart Foundation discovered in a worldwide survey of 6,476 participants in 27 countries. In the United States, six in 10 Americans didn't know it.

While most people do realize that being overweight or obese increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, what they didn't know is that where the fat is deposited is most important. Weight around our tummies--the so-called spare tire--is called abdominal obesity and this fat, more than any other on the body, has been shown to be linked to heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

"We are living in a world that promotes obesity," Dr. Stephen Daniels of the Cincinnati Hospital Medical Center and spokesman for the American Heart Association, told HealthDay News. "We have become more sedentary. We have more eating opportunities and those opportunities have higher calorie-density food. It really becomes a day-to-day approach to changing behaviors to eating and physical activity. A big step in the right direction is to build in at least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity."

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