According to findings published in an Aug. 2007 issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology and mentioned in a HealthDay Reporter article, "pot bellies" may play an important role in determining the risk for heart disease.
“What we're seeing is a quite strong association between the pot-belly, apple shape among a relatively young group of people and the build-up of plaque in the arteries," said study co-author Dr. James A. de Lemos, an associate professor of medicine and director of the Coronary Care Unit at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
“Ten to 15 years down the road, this can lead to major cardiac problems, such as a heart attack,” he said.
Based on findings from a multi-ethnic Dallas Heart Study of more than 2,700 men and women between the ages of 30 and 65, it was determined that body shape was a better indicator of calcium or plaque status than weight or BMI. For both men and women, the larger the belly is in relation to hips the greater the possibility of having arterial calcium in the heart.
Those with the largest waist to hip ratios in the group studied were nearly twice as likely to have coronary calcium and three times as likely to have atherosclerotic plaque compared to those with the smallest. Even incremental increases in waist to hip ratios meant steady increases in calcium deposits.
Source: HealthDay Reporter; March 23, 2007