LONDON – Well-toned hips and a trim waist – not just the pounds you carry – appear to be one of the best protections against heart attacks, according to a study of thousands of people in different countries.
Researchers report in today’s issue of The Lancet that a hip-to-waist ratio is a better predictor of the risk of heart attack than body-mass index, the current standard.
Based on weight and height, the body-mass index takes no notice of where fat is or how muscular a person is, said Dr. Arya Sharma, professor of medicine at McMaster University.
In the new study, heart attack risk rose as the ratio of waist size increased in proportion to hip circumference. The 20 percent of the survey who had the highest ratio were 2.5 times more at risk than the 20 percent with the lowest ratio, the study found.
The finding suggests risk can be lowered by trimming the abdomen, and increasing hip size by boosting muscle mass or redistributing fat.