Ex­pand­ing waist­lines putting HALF of mid­dle-aged at risk of killer dis­eases

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By So­phie Bor­land Health Ed­i­tor Turn to Page 4

HALF of mid­dle-aged Bri­tons’ waists are too big – putting them at risk of di­a­betes, heart dis­ease and cancer, shock­ing NHS fig­ures re­veal.

Women face the great­est threat, with 61 per cent of those aged 55 to 64 hav­ing ‘very high’ waist mea­sure­ments.

In the 45 to 54 age group, 52 per cent of women have waist­lines which the NHS deems too large, mea­sur­ing 34in or above.

Waist sizes are in­creas­ingly be­ing used by med­i­cal staff to pre­dict the like­li­hood of de­vel­op­ing se­ri­ous health con­di­tions.

For men, 46 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds and 38 per cent of 45 to 54 year-olds have ‘very high’

waist mea­sure­ments. Sir Si­mon Stevens, the head of the NHS, said our ex­pand­ing waists were a ‘ grow­ing sign’ of Bri­tain’s obe­sity cri­sis.

He warned that hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple were at risk of ‘deadly and de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­eases’.

‘Car­ry­ing ex­tra pounds also places a strain on the NHS with ris­ing hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions and the waste­ful costs they bring,’ he said.

The fig­ures – re­vealed in the lat­est Health Sur­vey for Eng­land – come as many adults are looking to­wards healthy New Year’s res­o­lu­tions af­ter in­dulging at Christ­mas.

But our waist­lines are steadily grow­ing. In 2003, an av­er­age of 41 per cent of women and 31 per cent of men had ‘very high’ mea­sure­ments.

By 2018, the lat­est fig­ures avail­able, this had risen to 48 per cent of women and 34 per cent of men.

Med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als be­lieve that fat around the waist is more deadly than fat on our hips and thighs. They are par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about a type called ‘ vis­ceral fat’ which sits around the liver, kid­neys, in­testines and pan­creas.

Some stud­ies have found that vis­ceral fat in­ter­rupts the func­tion­ing of hor­mones in­clud­ing in­sulin, which can trig­ger Type 2 di­a­betes.

The NHS de­fines waist­lines as be­ing ‘very high’ if they are 34in (88cm) or above for women, the equiv­a­lent of dress size 18, and 40in (102cm) or over for men, an XXXL in cloth­ing size.

The sur­vey is seen a cru­cial ‘state of the na­tion’ in­sight into our health and well­be­ing.

It in­volved 4,825 adults who had their waists mea­sured by a nurse, with a to­tal of 8,178 adults an­swer­ing ques­tions about their life­style.

For both men and women, av­er­age

‘Grow­ing sign of the obe­sity cri­sis’

waist sizes grad­u­ally in­crease with age un­til 75, at which point they fall slightly. They reach a peak in the 65 to 74 age group. Among 16 to 24-yearolds, 17 per cent of women and 9 per cent of men have very large waists.

Sir Si­mon said: ‘our ex­pand­ing waist­lines are a grow­ing sign of the obe­sity cri­sis which is putting hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple at a greater risk of heart at­tacks, stroke, cancer and other deadly and de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­eases. Af­ter push­ing the boat out over Christ­mas, the New Year is a great time to switch to a bit more ex­er­cise and a good diet.’

Emma Shields, se­nior clin­i­cal ad­viser at Di­a­betes UK, added: ‘Hav­ing a large waist size can in­crease your risk of Type 2 di­a­betes, even if your weight and BMI are healthy. This is be­cause ex­tra weight around the waist can cause fat to build up around or­gans like the liver and pan­creas, which can lead to in­sulin re­sis­tance.’

Vanessa Smith, se­nior car­diac nurse at the Bri­tish Heart Foun­da­tion, said: ‘Many of us are car­ry­ing too much fat around our waist­lines, and Christ­mas is un­likely to help mat­ters.

‘But we know a larger waist size is linked to greater risk of life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions such as heart dis­ease, Type 2 di­a­betes and stroke.’ Alice Davies, Cancer Re­search UK’s health in­for­ma­tion of­fice, said: “Th­ese fig­ures are con­cern­ing as be­ing over­weight or obese can in­crease the risk of 13 dif­fer­ent types of cancer.

‘Keep­ing a healthy weight can re­duce your risk of cancer and other dis­eases, so what­ever your age, los­ing weight and keep­ing it off could re­ally im­prove your health.’

Many aca­demics be­lieve that the waist cir­cum­fer­ence is a more ac­cu­rate in­di­ca­tor of obe­sity, Type 2 di­a­betes and other dis­eases than the tra­di­tion­ally-used body mass in­dex (BMI). one the­ory is that the vis­ceral fat in the ab­domen trig­gers Type 2 di­a­betes by caus­ing the body to be­come re­sis­tant to in­sulin, the hor­mone which breaks down sugar. Type 2 di­a­betes it­self greatly in­creases the risk of strokes and heart at­tacks as well as lead­ing to foot am­pu­ta­tions, kid­ney fail­ure and blind­ness.

A large waist­line has also been linked to cer­tain types of cancer, par­tic­u­larly liver and pan­cre­atic cancer, as well as strokes and heart dis­ease.

The NHS de­fines a ‘de­sir­able’ waist­line as be­ing less than 31in (80cm) for women and less than 37in (94cm) for men. A ‘ high’ cir­cum­fer­ence is be­tween 31 and 34in (80-88cm) for women and be­tween 37 and 40in (94102cm) for men, and any­thing above is ‘very high’.

The lat­est fig­ures show that one in four adults in the UK and one in five chil­dren leav­ing pri­mary school are obese, as de­fined by their BMI. But th­ese sta­tis­tics may be mis­lead­ing be­cause some peo­ple with healthy BMIs may have large waist­lines.

WITH bal­loon­ing waist­lines in­creas­ingly en­dan­ger­ing our lives, is it not time to ad­mit that lack of self-dis­ci­pline is a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to the obe­sity cri­sis – and the re­sult­ing bur­den it places on the NHS?

Alarm­ingly, half of mid­dle-aged Bri­tons now have waists so big that they con­sti­tute a ma­jor health risk, a gen­er­ous girth in­di­cat­ing greater vul­ner­a­bil­ity to heart dis­ease, stroke, cancer and Type 2 di­a­betes. And as we age, our bel­lies get big­ger – stor­ing up more trou­ble for the fu­ture.

The po­lit­i­cal de­bate over NHS fund­ing is of­ten arid and con­tentious, fo­cus­ing on money and staffing rather than rea­sons for ever-ex­pand­ing de­mand.

Yes, age gen­er­ates ill­ness – and we can’t avoid get­ting old. But we can avoid obe­sity. More of­ten than not, it is an elec­tive plague, not one in­flicted by na­ture.

Too many fried chicken shops and sug­ary foods? Then we must avoid them, for­sak­ing the fast and tasty for the slow and nu­tri­tious. This mes­sage needs to be rammed home early in life by par­ents and teach­ers.

The public are at risk of be­ing in­fan­tilised by the health de­bate, for­ever be­ing fed a diet of spend­ing prom­ises which are no more than stick­ing plas­ter so­lu­tions.

Long-last­ing change in the na­tion’s health re­quires a change in cul­ture – in­clud­ing the re­dis­cov­ery of self-con­trol. And not just as part of a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion.

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