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Belly Bulge May Be Fatal For The Elderly

    Aug-12-2010

Here is a warning note for all older adults enduring a slightly bigger waistline. Latest researches have confirmed that a belly bulge may prove to be fatal for them. This is true even for people who are neither plump nor heavy by any standard. Precisely speaking, a major research conducted to study the threats of fat accumulation in the abdominal region hints that people, both men and women, having a big waistline face double the risk of death in a decade's time in comparison to people having relatively small bellies.

While this may not be news for some, what is surprising is the fact that people having bigger tummies face a greater threat of demise even when they are not overweight or have a normal body mass index (BMI) - an average method founded on weight and height.

According to Eric Jacobs, the lead author of the study funded by the American Cancer Society, you are at risk if your waistline has shown an increase, though you may not have gained weight significantly. Accumulation of fat in the abdominal region, and not an increase in weight, is more pertinent in this case. Hence, it is important for people to have a healthy diet and engage in regular and more work-outs, he said.

Meanwhile, another study has suggested that the increase in waistline is related to ailments such as asthma, breast cancer, dementia (an acute loss of intellectual competence and personality integration owing to the loss of or injury to neurons in the brain) and even heart diseases.

It is important to know that most Americans above the age of 50 years endure fat tummies. In fact, according to projections, above 50 per cent of elderly American men and 70 per cent of women suffer from bulging waistlines that are beyond what the physicians say is safe or more than the recommended limits. What is worse is that this problem is an ever increasing one. On average, the waistlines have increased by approximately one inch or 2.5 cm every decade ever since the 1960s.

You may measure your waistline using a tape. Measure the belly around your waist by the side of the navel. And while measuring your waistline, do not suck in your bulging belly. According to recommended limits, men ought to have a waistline not more than 40 inches or 100 cm, while the safe limit for women is 35 inches or 90 cm.
The latest research was published in the recent edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine. This study is said to be the first ever to examine the dimension of waist and bereavements for people in three different BMI groupings - standard, overweight and plump. The study related the size of the waist to the greater risk deaths among people in all three different categories.

Among the people examined by the researchers, approximately two per cent had regular BMI figures, but their waistline was above the recommended size. According to Jacobs, the scientists have found that the risk of death augmented with the increase in the size of the belly - including tummies that may be under what is usually regarded as exceptionally big. During the course of their research, scientists have made use of data made available from over 100,000 people who were tracked between the period 1997 and 2006. Among these 100,000 people, approximately 15,000 people died during the course of the study.

The scientists involved in the study are said to have extensively examined the data available on the circumference of the waist, height and weight of the elderly people to arrive at conclusions regarding those who faced greater risks of death or were more liable to pass away. The authors of the study have admitted that since the people who participated in the research measured their own waistlines, it is possible that some of them might have fudged actual figures wishfully or made honest errors. However, these are unlikely to have any effect on the final outcome of the study.

According to the findings of the study, an additional four inches in the waistline enhanced the death risks by around 15 per cent to 25 per cent! Strangely enough, those who faced an enhanced death risk (25 per cent) were women having standard BMI. In addition, the researchers also concluded that people who had bulging tummies faced augmented death risks owing to conditions, such as heart ailments, respiratory diseases and cancer.

The research undertaken by the scientists was primarily an observation of the risks related to bulging waistlines. It was not a very precise approach, which denotes that the deaths of the approximately 15,000 participants, who died during the course of the research - between 1997 and 2006, could also have occurred owing to reasons besides bulging tummies. Nevertheless, the scientists did take into consideration other risk aspects for failing health, including consumption of alcoholic drinks and smoking.

According to Jacobs, in this case weight gain is not as significant a risk as increasing waistlines since there are a number of elderly people who accumulate fat in the abdominal region while losing muscle mass. Therefore, although these people may not be gaining weight, their shape is changing - the size of their waistline is on a constant rise. This is dangerous, as it is proving to be fatal in many cases, he added. According to Jacobs, using a measuring tape or a belt that doesn't fasten in the the way it used to will help you to learn about the size of your belly. This information cannot be obtained by using a scale to measure your weight.

Experts say that accumulation of surplus fat in the abdominal region is perhaps more detrimental compared to additional fat stored on one's hips and thighs. A number of scientists are of the view that the excessive fat accumulated in the belly region discharges proteins and hormones that not only result in or aggravate inflammation, but also get in the way of the manner in which body actually processes insulin as well as increases the cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.

Meanwhile, an expert on obesity at the Washington University of Medicine located in St. Louis, Dr. Samuel Klein appears to be unconvinced regarding the above mentioned theory. He is of the view that getting rid of surplus abdominal fat by means of surgery does not result in any enhancement in the health of those enduring a bulging waistline. If Dr. Klein is to be believed, we need to consider that it is merely a substitute for some other reason that might be responsible for accumulation of fat in the abdominal region or bulging bellies as well as failing health. However, it needs to be mentioned that Dr. Klein was not a part of the team that undertook the research, arguably one of the largest of its kind, to examine the relation between increasing waistlines and risks of death faced by older adults having bulging bellies.

According to Dr. Klein, although the latest research demonstrates the relation between the size of an individual's waistline and the death risks faced by him or her, it does not precisely suggest the exact amount of fat accumulation in the abdominal region or the tummies that may prove to be deadly for people who may be considered having a standard, overweight or plum BMI. He categorically pointed out that the recommended limits of the waist circumference - 40 inches or 100 cm for men and 35 inches or 90 cm for women are actually immaterial for numerous older adults. Therefore, Dr. Klein is of the view that the research is inconclusive and more work needs to be done in this regard to arrive at definite conclusions vis-à-vis waist size and mortality rate.

Hence, the moot question is what needs to be done to combat the accumulation of excessive fat in the belly or abdominal region, especially among the elderly people. Although it may appear to be incredible to many, the solution in this case too is the same as that for losing unwanted or surplus body weight. Experts, including Dr. Klein, advise that in order to keep your waistline trim you ought to consume lesser calories and burn more of it by undertaking regular walking, bicycling as well as several other aerobic work-outs. According to Dr. Klein, doing mere sit-ups would not be of much help in this case. So, if you are noticing even a slight increase in your waistline, it is high time that you change your eating habits and exercise a lot.

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