Posts Tagged ‘Body shape’

We have known for a long time that overweight or obese individuals, especially those who are apple shaped, are more prone to certain disease conditions and higher mortality rates. A recent study, however, says that scales may not present the entire picture when it comes to susceptibility to certain illnesses and lifespan. Waistlines and body shape may be as important or more so than actual weight.

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Using the BMI chart as a standard and waist circumference as the indicator, researchers studied medical records of 156,000 postmenopausal women. Those with waistlines above 35 inches were categorized as having central obesity even when their weight was within normal range. Researchers found that women who were overweight or obese but did not have central obesity had a slightly reduced incidence of all-cause mortality. They referred to the phenomenon of too much weight with smaller waist circumference and normal weight women with a large waist circumference as the “obesity paradox.”  Does that affect health?

The study noted that central obesity presents risk factors for cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, namely breast and colon. Overall results may or may not apply to men and younger women. Nor is it known what role other factors may play since age influences hormonal changes and lowered metabolisms that affect weight.

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The journal of Neurology1 reported other negative health findings for those with large waistlines and higher BMIs. With an average age of sixty-four,1,289 participants underwent MRI brain scans to measure thinning of the brain cortex which has been associated with dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease. Obese subjects younger than sixty-five had greater reduction in gray matter in the brain. Over a period of approximately six years, researchers found that as BMI scores increased, scans showed more thinning in the cortex―the area of the brain which causes loss of old memories. Dr. Tatjana Rundek, a co-author of the study, stated that “results would indicate that being overweight or obese may accelerate aging in the brain by at least a decade.”

While too much weight isn’t a positive aspect on health as we age, it not only affects physical well-being but brain functions as well. Remember these effects, if you can, the next time you eye that glazed doughnut or tempting dessert.

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  1. 1Michelle R. Caunca, Hannah Gardener, Marialaura Simonetto, Ying Kuen Cheung, Noam Alperin, Mitsuhiro Yoshita, Charles DeCarli, Mitchell S.V. Elkind, Ralph L. Sacco, Clinton B. Wright, Tatjana Rundek. Measures of obesity are associated with MRI markers of brain aging The Northern Manhattan StudyNeurology, 2019 DOI: 1212/WNL.0000000000007966


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You may not have a white beard, but if your belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly and looks like Santa Claus, take heed. That’s not a jolly good thing. When it comes to health, shape is as important—even more so—than weight.

Body shape—especially extra stored fat—influences risks for such conditions as diabetes and heart disease. The ratio between hips and waist is three times more effective in predicting heart disease than is Body Mass Index (BMI) or weight alone.

Health professionals often refer to body build as apple-shaped or pear-shaped. Those shaped like apples have belly fat above the waist. Pear-shaped individuals have major portions of fat on the thighs. Overweight apple-shaped people have more health risks than those of the same weight who are built like pears. If you look more like an apple than a pear, you will improve your health if you lose a few pounds and decrease that roll of fat.

New evidence shows that people with more belly fat may have higher risks for kidney disease—even when not overweight. Higher blood pressure in the kidneys causes damage to small blood vessels which in turn hinders blood flow through the glomeruli (tiny filters that rid the blood of waste). Regardless of body weight, this is true in healthy individuals who don’t have high blood pressure or diabetes. Overweight individuals have an even greater risk. The glomerular filtration rate (amount of blood passed through the glomeruli each minute) decreases every year with normal aging. Therefore, as apple-shaped individual’s age, they are even more prone to kidney problems.

Weight loss is more crucial for those with upper body fat. You know your physical shape, but look in the mirror again. If your belly shakes like jelly, you and Santa better watch out. Fat above the waist makes a difference. Be good to yourself and get rid of that belly fat.

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