Belly fat greatly increases the risk of suffering with a stroke

August 18, 2008

     We know that being overweight or obese can contribute to heart disease and heart attacks. A new study from researchers at the University of Heidelberg says that extra weight around your belly increases the risk of a stroke and the bigger the belly the greater the risk. The researchers looked at whether people who were obese or overweight had a greater stroke risk than those who were normal weight. Researchers zoned in specifically on expanding waistlines. The study included 1,137 German adults; 379 of which were stroke patients, and 758 comprised a control group matched for age, gender, and place of residence. The stroke group included 141 women and 238 men, with an average age of 67.
     Obesity was more common in individuals who had suffered a stroke or TIA, affecting 30% of this group. The risk association for waist measurements was far more powerful than simply looking at the ratio of fat to muscle (the body mass index). People with bigger waist circumferences (greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women) had four times the stroke risk when compared with people with typical waistlines. Participants with the highest waist to hip ration had nearly eight times the risk of stroke when compared to people with the lowest ratios. These striking results were noted even after adjusting for other risks, like whether participants were inactive, smoked, or had diabetes. The results are published in the current issue of the journal Stroke: a  Journal of the American Heart Association.