More than half of British women have waists that are larger than the recommended healthy size, experts say. Researchers from the charity Nuffield Health say overweight women risk an increased chance of heart disease, type two diabetes, infertility and cancer. The researchers found the average waist measurement for women is 84.9cm (33.43in), compared with the healthy size of 80cm (31.49in).
Nuffield Health’s Dr Davina Deniszczyc said it was a “worrying problem.” Dr Deniszczyc, professional head of physicians and diagnostics at Nuffield Health, said: “Fat being stored around the waist can contribute to significant health issues, such as breast cancer and infertility.”
Nuffield Health examined data from more than 30,000 women and found 57 per cent had a waist larger than the healthy size. It said women in the north of England have the largest waists, with an average circumference of 87cm, compared to 81.9cm in London.
Researchers also said 52.5 per cent of the women have a body mass index (BMI) higher than the healthy range, while 16.2 per cent were moderately or morbidly obese. The BMI is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in metres squared.
A BMI level measured between 25 and 29.9 means a person is regarded as overweight. If your BMI is over 30 then you are clinically obese. Dr Deniszczyc said: “Whilst waist size may seem like a cosmetic issue, this isn’t about women fitting into their skinny jeans. Rather, it’s an important indicator of overall health and well-being, particularly when taken into account with other health measurements.
Role of stress in dementia investigated
UK experts are to begin a study to find out if stress can trigger dementia. The investigation, funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, will monitor 140 people with mild cognitive impairment or “pre-dementia” and look at how stress affects their condition. The researchers will take blood and saliva samples at six-month intervals over the 18 months of the study to measure biological markers of stress. They hope their work will reveal ways to prevent dementia. The results could offer clues to new treatments or better ways of managing the condition, they say.
People who have mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of going on to develop dementia, although some will remain stable and others may improve. And past work suggests mid-life stress may increase a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A Swedish study that followed nearly 1,500 women for a period of 35 years found the risk of dementia was about 65 per cent higher in women who reported repeated periods of stress in middle age than in those who did not. Scottish scientists, who have done studies in animals, believe the link may be down to hormones the body releases in response to stress which interfere with brain function. Prof Clive Holmes, from the University of Southampton, who will lead the study, said: “All of us go through stressful events. We are looking to understand how these may become a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s.
“Something such as bereavement or a traumatic experience, possibly even moving home, are also potential factors. “This is the first stage in developing ways in which to intervene with psychological or drug-based treatments to fight the disease. “We are looking at two aspects of stress relief, physical and psychological, and the body’s response to that experience.” Dr Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Understanding the risk factors for Alzheimer’s could provide one piece of the puzzle we need to take us closer to a treatment that could stop the disease in its tracks.” (BBC)