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Larger Waist Sizes Linked To Early Death

04/26/2017 11:16 EDT | Updated 04/26/2017 11:16 EDT

Got a big belly but a normal BMI (body mass index)? According to researchers, you're still in the danger zone.

A new study from the University of Sydney in Australia suggests people with larger waistlines are at a higher risk of heart-related death.

According to lead researcher Emmanuel Stamatakis, people who carry most of their weight in their midsection have a 22 per cent higher risk of early death than those who carry their weight across their body. For those with a high BMI but no extra belly weight, the risk of early death comes in at 13 per cent.

big belly

When it comes to the ideal waist size, many researchers say your measurement should be less than half of your height. However, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada notes a waist measurement of 80 cm or more for women and 94 cm or more for men is associated with increased risk of heart disease.

BMI has long be debated for its accuracy since it is an equation used to estimate body fat based on weight and height. According to the National Health Institute, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 while an overweight BMI is 25- 29.9. You can find out your own BMI through an online calculator.

Though waist size is an indicator of health risks, it is not the only factor to take into consideration. Even individuals with healthy waist sizes can be at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke based on their own and family medical history.

But for those looking to lose inches around their waist, there's no way to specifically target that area. Instead, experts recommend starting a weight loss regimen that will burn fat across the entire body.