The risk of heart disease is high among people who carry excess tummy weight even if they are not deemed overweight, researchers have said.

The American Heart Association has issued a Scientific Statement about the subject as they say the findings come at an important time because obesity has become an epidemic and has a significant impact on health.

Obesity is also linked to other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

But the fact those who are not overweight, but just carry extra weight around their waist could also be at risk of heart disease is worrying.

Dr Tiffany Powell-Wiley, chair of the writing committee, said: “This scientific statement provides the most recent research and information on the relationship between obesity and obesity treatment in coronary heart disease, heart failure and arrhythmias.

“The timing of this information is important because the obesity epidemic contributes significantly to the global burden of cardiovascular disease and numerous chronic health conditions that also impact heart disease.”

They discovered that the heart disease risk is increased among people who abdominal obesity and excess fat around the body’s mid-section and organs, irrespective of their body mass index (BMI).

The findings have prompted the team to suggest that tummy fat should be measured in addition to someone’s BMI during regular health care checks to assess their heart disease risk.

Dr Powell-Wiley said: “Studies that have examined the relationship between abdominal fat and cardiovascular outcomes confirm that visceral fat is a clear health hazard.

“Additional work is needed to identify effective interventions for patients with obesity that improve cardiovascular disease outcomes and reduce cardiovascular disease mortality, as is seen with bariatric surgery.”

The statement has been published in the Association’s flagship journal, Circulation.

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