Chicago, Illinois. March 25, 2008. An 8-year German study showed a direct relationship between abdominal weight and women's diabetes risk.
The study, involving over 2,000 participants, found that it wasn't so much how much fat you have on your body.
It's a matter of where that fat resides.
Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study determined that women with a waist size of 35 inches or more were at a higher risk of diabetes, compared to their skinnier counterparts.
And women with waists of 39 inches or greater suffered from insulin resistance, 10 times more likely to have a diabetic condition, compared to thinner study participants.
Unfortunately, women's stomach fat has been increasing over the last 40 years, with mean waist circumference growing from 32 inches in the mid-1960s to 37 inches today. This puts about 60% of adult American women in the high risk category.
It's becoming clearer and clearer that body fat distribution is an important variable, says Harvard's Chief of Preventive Medicine JoAnn Manson. And abdominal fat is the key culprit.
Excess stomach fat wraps itself around internal organs and secretes a powerful body chemical. This is turn, set off reactions that can lead to diabetes.
Abdominal or visceral fat, while a good indicator of diabetes risk, is often overlooked by doctors as a symptom to be watched.
According to another study, 71% of women have never had their waist circumference measured by their doctors.
Most health officials recommend that waist sizes for women should be 31 inches or less.
Study reviewers say the results of this excess stomach fat study are a simply a call to action for all women to undergo risk factor screening, including waist size measurement.