American and British girls are the worst in the world for carrying dangerous stomach fat.
A study has found more than half of girls in the US and the UK are ‘overfat’, putting them at risk of diabetes and cancer.
These children may appear to be of normal weight, but having a waist circumference of more than half their height is enough to put them in the danger category.
In the rankings of the world’s 30 most developed countries, US schoolgirls are the fattest, followed by the UK on this measurement.
On average, almost 87 percent of men and more than three-quarters of women in the list are ‘overfat’, storing their weight around their middle rather than elsewhere on their body.
It raises fresh concerns about female weight gain – particularly around the stomach, which is the most dangerous – at a young age.
This map reveals where the ‘overfat epidemic’ is most prevalent in the world’s 30 most developed countries
WHY IS STOMACH FAT SO DANGEROUS?
Measuring the weight around someone’s middle can be an indicator in adults of poor health.
People with excess stomach weight – as opposed to arm or leg fat – have a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease.
They also have a high risk pregnancy complications.
This is not the part of the body where women and girls tend to put on weight first, experts warn.
It means it is a cause for worry.
The term overfat refers to the presence of excess body fat that can wreak havoc on health – even in normal-weight non-obese people.
Excess body fat, especially around the middle, is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases, increased morbidity and mortality, and reduced quality of life.
The study, led by Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, states: ‘The prevalence of overfat populations in 30 of the world’s most developed countries is substantially higher than recent global estimations, with the largest growth due to a relatively recent increased number of people with excess abdominal fat.’
Collaborating with researchers in San Diego, the team reported earlier this year in the journal Frontiers of Public Health that up to 76 percent of the world’s population may be overfat.
Now these same researchers have focused their efforts on data from 30 of the top developed countries, with even more alarming findings.
They found that, in the top overfat countries, 80 percent of women fall into this category.
The problem is particularly pervasive in the UK and the US, where the Western diet is the universal preference.
However, the researchers were surprised to discover that Iceland and even Greece – where people are generally thought to be healthier – had similar statistics.
This trend may be bad news for developing countries as well, since they have followed the trend of developed nations in the growing overfat pandemic.
In developed countries, up to 90 percent of adult males and 50 percent children may suffer from this condition.
A recent rise in the amount of stomach fat, the unhealthiest form of excess body fat, has been observed in both adults and children.
Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at Glasgow University’s Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, said: ‘Measuring the weight around someone’s middle can be an indicator in adults of their risk of diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and, when measured early in pregnancy, of the risk pregnancy complications.
‘This is not the part of the body where women and girls tend to put on weight first so the fact that young girls are among the worst for this measure is a worry.
‘We know we have a problem in this country, and the biggest factor is the food environment, but the evidence also shows physical activity in girls tends to fall faster than it does in boys, which can help to prevent weight gain.’
The study, led by Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, found more than half of schoolgirls in the US and the UK are ‘overfat’, putting them at risk of diabetes and cancer
The research team said that suggests a direct link to insulin-resistance, the body’s natural propensity to convert and store carbohydrate foods as fat.
The relationship between the overfat condition and poor health is a spectrum or progression in which the vicious cycle of excess body fat, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation lie at one end, causing abnormal blood fats and glucose, and elevated blood pressure, which then produces a variety of common diseases at the other end.
Being overfat is linked to hypertension, dyslipidemia, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and gout, pulmonary diseases, sleep apnea and others.
Many physically active people, including professional athletes in various sports and active U.S. military personnel, also may fall into the overfat category.
Traditional means of assessment, such as stepping on a scale or calculating Body Mass Index (BMI), are ineffective at determining whether someone is overfat.
Instead, researchers recommend taking a measure of the waistline (at the level of the belly button) and comparing it to height: The waist measure should be less than half a person’s.