Annals of Internal Medicine reports that people who have a normal body mass index (weight to height ratio) but abdominal fat are at high risk for heart related deaths.
Using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, researchers studied more than 15,000 adults with BMIs greater than 18.5. Normal being 18-24.
After a mean follow-up of 14 years, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), but not BMI, was associated with higher overall mortality risk. Among men with normal BMI, those with central obesity had an 87% higher total mortality risk than men without central obesity. Similarly, women with normal-weight central obesity had a 48% higher mortality risk than women with similar BMI but no central obesity.
The recommended waist circumference for men is less than 102 cm, and for women is less than 88 cm.