A new study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that the waistlines of adults in the United States are still expanding, while the body mass index (BMI) which is a key indicator for obesity has stabilized.
Calling it a bad news, researchers say the bellies of American adults have increased an inch to a circumference of almost 39 inches over the last decade.
Dr. Earl Ford, study author and a medical officer at CDC, said, “Waist circumference has kind of been picking up year after year, while BMI flat-lined a little bit.”
Abdominal obesity is a condition when the waistline or the circumference of waist increases greater than 34.6 inches in women and more than 40.2 inches in men.
For the study, the CDC researchers involved 32,816 people above the age of 20 and looked at their data between 1999 and 2011-2012. The data was collected using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to assess weight.
The average age of the participants was 45. During this time, the circumference of waist has increased from 37.6 inches in 1999-2000 to 38.8 inches in 2011-2012. There was an overall increase in women’s waists by 1.5 inches to an average of 37.8 inches. The waistline of the Mexican-Americans witnessed a surge of 1.8 inches to 39.6 inches, while the waists of African-American people rose by 1.6 inches to 39 inches.
David Heber, director of UCLA Risk Factor for Obesity Clinic, says the pattern of waistline increase and reason behind it is very unclear, especially when the BMI (which is based on weight-to-height ratio) hasn’t changed and remained stable.
It might be the aging population, says Heber while explaining, the heavy muscle is lost as we age and we start gaining more fat.
Some of the other crucial causes pointed by the CDC researchers for the waistline gain include sleep disorder, poor lifestyle habits, lack of exercise and last but not the least certain medications.
According to the experts, the increase in fats around belly is not a good signal and is dangerous for the person’s health. The extra belly fat put the person at greater risk of fatal health problems like heart disease, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.
The study was detailed in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday.