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The Most Dangerous Fat for Women Is...
...around the middle. How dangerous? Belly fat is far more dangerous in older women than being overweight--so dangerous that it can shorten a woman's life, reports HealthDay News of research from the University of Arizona.

Find out the secret your waist size reveals, including the specific numbers for men and women.

The study: Led by Zhao Chen, chair of the University of Arizona's department of epidemiology and biostatistics in the College of Public Health., the team compiled data on nearly 162,000 women ages 50 to 79, all of whom were part of the Woman's Health Initiative, a major study on postmenopausal women by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. As part of this study, each woman provided information on her height, weight and waist size, as well as other lifestyle data. During the 11-year follow-up period, more than 18,000 women died.

The results:

  • Being overweight or slightly obese didn't affect lifespan; however, being morbidly obese (a body mass index of 35 or greater) increased the odds of an early death by about 10 percent.

  • A higher waist circumference was consistently tied to higher death rates. Specifically, there was a higher death risk when the waist circumference measured more than 31.5 inches and an extreme risk for anything at or above 35 inches.

  • Being underweight also appeared to shorten lifespan--so much so that older women should be more concerned if their body weight is below normal for their height and less concerned if they are slightly heavier than normal.

  • No matter what their waist measurement or BMI, Hispanic women enjoyed some protection, having lower mortality rates than white or black women.

The takeaway: Abdominal fat is more deadly than carrying excess weight.

The study findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The most effective diet aid may be your bathroom scale. Find out how to best use it to shed pounds.

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