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An increasing volume of evidence suggests that the amount of fat we hold around our waistlines is one of the best indicators of good health. The circumference of our stomachs supposedly has a strong link to the health of our hearts, our risk for diabetes, and our cognitive performance as we age.
According to a 2018 study, an older man or woman’s waist-to-hip ratio — the easiest way to measure abdominal fat — has a strong connection with their cognitive abilities. In a large, ongoing study about aging in Northern Ireland, researchers examined data from over 5,000 older Irish people. They compared the participants’ belly measurements to their performance on cognitive tests, which were developed to evaluate language, memory, and attention skills. The outcome revealed that the higher a participant’s waist circumference was, the worse he or she performed on the tests.
In addition to measuring people’s waistlines, the researchers also observed their body mass index (BMI) to conclude whether it had strong connections to brain health. Their findings showed that it did not, adding to a growing body of evidence that implies waist circumference is a more reliable predictor of health than BMI.
Alongside the recent study about the link between waist-to-hip ratio and cognitive performance, abdominal size additionally has significant relations with heart and metabolic health. In another 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found links between the participants’ waist measurements and their probability of having a heart attack. The same medical connection was not present between heart attack risks and BMI.
There also appears to be a tie-up between our waistline and the risk of developing diabetes. In one study from PLOS Medicine, researchers learned that overweight men and women were at risk for the impairing disease. The link was stronger in female participants whose waists were larger than 34.5 inches, and in men whose waists were larger than 40 inches.
If you are over these mentioned numbers, it does not mean you will immediately suffer from poor cognitive performance, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. But it could imply that you should consider healthy approaches to trim down your waist and reduce your risk of negative health consequences.
Scientists are still uncertain why our stomachs seem to be effective indicators of our overall health. Some people assume that it has something to do with how fat inside the body (visceral fat), may disrupt the routine functions of our internal organs.
If you want to cut down on belly fat and be healthier, start with your diet. Limiting your intake of processed foods, including canned goods and refined grains, is a recommended strategy. Another bulletproof way to trim your waistline is to eat more vegetables and other fiber-rich foods. Finally, adding at least 30 minutes of movement into your day is essential. Always look for ways to utilize your body by walking, running, cycling, and doing other forms of exercise.