Healthy living * Weight loss

Beer bellies and muffin tops: 'a major health hazard'

Check those waistlines

Most people are unaware their beer bellies and muffin tops are increasing their risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, say health charities.

A survey of over 2,000 adults for Diabetes UK, Cancer Research and the British Heart Foundation found that nearly three quarters of people questioned carry excess weight around their middle.

But 97 per cent of people were unaware their spare tyre could produce higher levels of oestrogen and excess chemicals in their stomachs, putting them at risk of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

And more than half of people surveyed overestimated the size of waist which put them at greater risk of potentially life-threatening diseases.

The three charities have teamed together to launch a new ‘Active Fat’ campaign which aims to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying extra weight around your middle.

The charities are urging people to measure their waistlines and make positive changes to their lifestyles if they are at risk.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director for the British Heart Foundation, said: “That ‘harmless’ spare tyre around your waist is actually a major health hazard.

"While you might be relaxing at home, your fat cells are working overtime to pump out excess hormones and other chemicals that can cause disease.

“Wrapping a tape measure around your middle takes just a few seconds, but it could be your vital first step towards a healthier a future.”

What's your risk?

  • Women are at risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease if their waist measurement is over 80cm (31.5 inches) and men are at risk from 94cm (37 inches)
  • Women are at high risk if their waist is over 88cm (34.5 inches), and men are at high risk over 102cm (40 inches)
  • South Asian women are at high risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes from 80cm (31.5 inches), and South Asian men are at high risk from 90cm (35 inches)

This article was published on Tue 20 April 2010

Image © Ljupco Smokovski -

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