Obesity is one of the world's most sensitive subjects when it comes to a person's health. A person considered "overweight" is usually assumed unhealthy.

A new study shows that a person doesn't have to be obese to be considered unhealthy, but if the person has a "large" stomach, it may raise some concerns and could be bad for the heart.

Big Tummy Means Big Trouble

The study, which was conducted on 1,700 participants over the age of 45, shows that those who had normal levels of body mass index but had excessive belly fat were twice as likely to get a heart attack, a procedure for their artery, or even die from heart problems. The study was done from 2000 to 2016.

BMI is a system used to calculate the amount of tissue mass in a person to categorize them as underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. Typically, a person with a BMI of 25 or more would be considered overweight, and if the BMI is 30 and more they would be considered obese.

Dr. Jose Medina-Inojosa from the Mayo Clinic stated that the stomach is the first place people normally store the fat which could cause problems if the person has an excessive belly.

"The belly is usually the first place we deposit fat, so people classified as overweight BMI but without a fat belly probably have more muscle, which is good for health," Medina-Inojosa stated.

He continued that the muscle in the stomach is what helps get rid of the sugar and fat levels.

"If you have fat around your belly and it's greater than the size of your hips, visit your doctor to assess your cardiovascular health and fat distribution," he elaborated.

How To Decrease Belly Fat

Medina-Inojosa suggested that if a person has belly fat or is looking for ways to get rid of it, exercising as much as possible will help burn off the weight.

He continued that walking more often and resisting foods that are loaded with refined carbohydrates will help increase the muscle mass.

Medina-Inojosa added that doctors shouldn't assume that a person with a normal BMI isn't at risk of developing heart problems later on in life. He concluded that doctors should instead measure anyone with central obesity to get a clearer understanding of what their patient is at risk for.

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