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Tubby tummies raise heart risk

14th August 2007

New research has given those with pot bellies another incentive to start that abdominal regime.

Scientists from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas found that people with a larger waist-to-hip ratio may be at increased risk for heart disease.

The results suggest that body mass index is an inadequate indicator of susceptibility and it is more helpful to look at the percentage and distribution of fat.

Senior author Dr James de Lemos said: "Fat that accumulates around your waist seems to be more biologically active as it secretes inflammatory proteins that contribute to atherosclerotic plaque buildup, whereas fat around your hips doesn't appear to increase risk for cardiovascular disease at all."

Atherosclerotic plaque consists of dead cells, lipids and cholesterol crystals.

"We think the key message for people is to prevent accumulation of central fat early on in their lives.

"To do so, they will need to develop lifelong dietary and exercise habits that prevent the development of the 'pot belly'."

The study will appear in the August 21st issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.