HAMILTON, Ontario, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The ratio of the size of people's waistlines and their hips is a more useful gauge of cardiovascular risk than the body mass index, Canadian researchers say.
The study concludes that men with a belly-to-hip ratio of 95 percent or greater and women with a ratio of 80 percent of greater -- meaning their bellies are as large or nearly as large as their hips -- are at greater risk of heart attacks.
"(Body mass index) is a very weak predictor of the risk of a heart attack," researcher Salim Yusuf of Canada's Population Health Research Institute told The Washington Post. "Measuring the girth of the waist and girth of the hip is far more powerful."
A commentary accompanying the study published in British journal The Lancet cautioned that the research does not prove a high belly-to-hip ration causes risk.
"However defined, overweight and obesity contribute to the development of a number of debilitating diseases," the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases said.