“The results indicate that a person with broad hips but thin waist is at the lower end of the risk scale, while a person with narrow hips and broad waist is at the higher end,” said Stefan Söderberg, cardiology specialist at Umeå University, in a statement.
Through studying the relationship between waist and hip measurements on 8,000 people on Mauritius over the course of 20 years the scientists are the first in the world to connect obesity to early death in a South Asian population.
The study shows that the real effects of obesity may be underestimated when hip circumference is not fully taken into account.
“By including the protective effect of the hip fat into the equation we have been able to isolate stomach fat, measured around the waist, as a determining health risk. It looks as if this kind of obesity is more dangerous than we thought, especially for the South Asian population,” said Söderberg.
A high waist measurement has previously been seen as a better indicator of dangerous obesity than a high Body Mass Index (BMI) but the new results indicate that the circumference of the waist only show half of the truth.
The hip circumference should also be considered, according to the scientists who argue that both measurements are important factors to judge the health risk in obese patients.
The study, which has been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, builds on a co-operation between scientists in Sweden, Australia, Mauritius, Finland, the United Kingdom and Denmark.