Having a wide waist is actually worse for your heart than actually being overweight, reveals a recent study. The research was presented at EuroPrevent 2018, a congress of the European Society of Cardiology held on April 20 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The study, conducted by cardiologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, investigated how much abdominal obesity (belly fat in people with a normal weight, also known as central obesity) factors into the risk of heart disease, UPI reports.
According to the study, having excess weight around your abdominal area (colloquially known as "beer belly") is more dangerous for your heart than having a high Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI measures the overall body fat based on people's weight in relation to their height.
"People with a normal weight but a fat belly have more chance of heart problems than people without a fat belly, even if they are obese according to BMI," said study author Dr. Jose Medina-Inojosa, of Mayo Clinic's division of preventive cardiology.
It all has to do with fat distribution, Medina-Inojosa explains. In other words: location, location, location.
The waist is the first area where adipose tissue usually stores up, he says. This means that people with a high BMI -- who classify as being overweight -- but no beer belly "probably have more muscle, which is good for health," Medina-Inojosa points out.
That is because muscle tissue acts "like a metabolic storehouse" that helps the body burn fat and decrease blood sugar levels, the study author said in a statement.