Waist circumference… Let us avoid all risk factors
For every 16 years we age, our risk of developing cardiovascular diseases increases by threefold; to place obesity in perspective, for every 14 to 14.9 centimeters men and women gain in waistline respectively (relative to reference values), cardiovascular risk increases by 21 to 40 percent. So, just like age, waist circumference becomes a very important cardiovascular risk indicator.
Each fat cell or adipocyte can multiply into 5, that is each adipocyte can form five new fat cells, and each adipocyte cell can be enlarged to five times its size. When excess fat cell (adipocytes) accumulate in the adipose tissue, it enlarges and, of course, if it’s abdominal adipose tissue, or the waist, it will increase waist circumference perimeter. By losing weight, we reduce our fat cell size, but we don’t reduce the amount of adipocytes found in the adipose tissue.
Therefore, we need to know and be aware of our waist size, as well as our age, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, so we can take all necessary measures to prevent or reduce our risk of cardiovascular problems.
Waist Circumference and the IDEA study
In the IDEA study (International Day for Evaluation of Abdominal Obesity) results were pretty conclusive. This study was conducted in 63 countries and 6,407 clinicians were involved, where the waist circumference of a total of 168,159 patients aged between 18 and 70 years was measured over 24 hours when they visited the clinicians’s offices.
Based on their results, on average, 16% of men and 12.5% of women participating, were already suffering from a cardiovascular disease. In Latin America, the figure was of 10% against 26% in Eastern Europe. As for the amount of people with excess weight and obesity, between 60 and 70% of the studied population exceeded their normal weight.
The results showed that in every studied region, there was a strong relationship between waist circumference and cardiovascular diseases, both in the most obese populations and the thinnest ones, i.e. risk of cardiovascular disease increases with abdominal circumference size, regardless of body mass index or BMI.
The IDEA study also showed that higher levels of education were associated to a lower BMI, and that the index was higher among unemployed and retired people than in active workers.
The anxiety and stress of being unemployed, is the reason why this group had a higher incidence of increased waist circumference. Stress causes the body to secrete more of the hormone Cortisol, which causes the body to raise its blood glucose levels, facilitating the formation of fat cells or adipocytes. These fat cells are stored in the waist’s fatty tissue, and stimulates the appetite hormone ghrelin, which causes the person to eat more.
Therefore, we need to make every effort to maintain a normal waist circumference, so we can prevent the problems associated with increased waist size and thus enjoy a better quality of life.