What does your waistline say about you?

There is an medical condition so obvious that a physician can  diagnose without performing a single diagnostic test. It can be spotted in an instant.  It’s so common that it is seen everywhere — at malls, in restaurants, on the golf course, and strolling down the street. It has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. I’m sure you’ve seen it, too, among your family and friends, and maybe when you look in the mirror. It’s your waistline!!!!

The condition has many names but the two that rings the loudest bells are heart disease and diabetes.  According to Dr. Arthur Agatston, there’s one clue that’s a dead giveaway: It’s your waistline. One of my colleagues says that when a patient’s belly is the first body part to enter his office, the diagnosis is made. If you have gained weight in middle age and most of it is in your belly, you are likely part of the American epidemic of pre-diabetes. And if you don’t start eating better and exercising, full-blown diabetes will almost certainly be in your future. After a meal, it is the job of insulin to help transport fats as well as sugar from the blood into the tissues. As you develop insulin resistance, fats accumulate in your bloodstream and hang around much longer than usual. During this time, changes in your blood fats occur — your LDL (bad cholesterol) particles and your HDL (good cholestrol) particles become smaller and your total HDL is reduced. These changes are also associated with high blood fat levels measured in the form of triglycerides. The fact that these fats are in your bloodstream longer also favors their accumulation in the vessel walls.

So, if you have gained predominantly belly fat as an adult and there is diabetes in your family (even if it occurred in a parent or grandparent late in life), you probably are insulin resistant and have pre-diabetes. The diagnosis of pre-diabetes is made if you meet three of the five following criteria:

  • Central obesity: A waist circumference of greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women
  • Elevated triglycerides: Greater than or equal to 150 mg/dL
  • Low total HDL: Less than or equal to 40 mg/dL for men and less than or equal to 50 mg/dL for women
  • Elevated blood pressure: Systolic blood pressure of greater than or equal to 130 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure of greater than or equal to 85 mm Hg
  • Elevated fasting glucose: Greater than or equal to 100 mg/dL

Reference: Everyday Health, Arthur Agatston

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