If you're packing extra pounds in your hips and thighs, you should be aware that excess weight may present the same health risks as a big belly. A new international study including more than 222,000 adults in 17 countries may have refuted earlier findings that being overweight is worse for heart health if the excess fat is in the abdomen. The study, published online March 11, 2011, by The Lancet, concluded that it doesn’t matter where you carry your fat - being overweight itself presents a threat. But the investigators found that, overall; the most important predictors of heart disease are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. They stressed, however, that while measures of excess weight alone may not be the best indicators of risk of heart disease, being overweight or obese can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all of which contribute to heart disease. No matter how you look at it, those extra pounds still matter.
Learn about metabolic syndrome - a collection of conditions that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.