Recent results from an observational study – ‘Risk of Death Among Postmenopausal Women With Normal Weight and High Abdominal Fat’ – have found that post-menopausal healthy-weight women (Body Mass Index (BMI) 18.5-24.9) with central obesity (waist circumference greater than 88cm) are at a higher risk of death from chronic disease compared to healthy-weight women with no central obesity.
Using data from almost 157,000 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative between 1993 and 1998, researchers studied the link between healthy-weight central adiposity with risk of death.
Reportedly, study researchers found postmenopausal women who were healthy weight but with central adiposity had a comparable risk of death from chronic disease to women with obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 30) and central adiposity.
These findings suggest that while obesity prevention commonly focuses on BMI, because this measure doesn’t distinguish body shape or fat distribution, it may be more pertinent to include additional measures – such as waist circumference – in clinical and public health guidelines, particularly for individuals with healthy weight.
However, researchers have reported that limitations of this study include its focus on postmenopausal women. As such findings may not be able to be broadly applied to younger women or men.