Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gut Checks Carry More Weight

When big-bellied patients come through the door of George Griffing's medical office in Brentwood, Mo., he pulls out a measuring stick.

Griffing, a professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, has those patients lie flat on their backs on an exam table. Then he measures the height of their bulging midsection from table top to tummy top.

"I'd like to use a ruler, but with a lot of patients I have to use a yardstick," he says. "What we're really looking for is how much fat is in the abdomen and the liver. It's simple and accurate and reveals a lot of information."

Medical experts have long suspected that people with excess deep-belly fat are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, and ongoing research bolsters that belief.

Griffing believes that measuring abdominal height is more efficient and accurate at predicting the risks of diabetes and cardiovascular disease than more commonly used methods such as calculating body mass indexes or waist-to-hip ratios, or measuring the circumferences of patients' waists. Those all factor in subcutaneous fat on arms, legs and hips, which is not as bad for you as fat in the gut, Griffing says. Griffing says most studies have found that abdominal heights that measure more than 10 inches in women and more than 12 inches in men triple the chance of cardiovascular disease.

The American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association endorse using the midsection measuring technique. On its Web site, the American Diabetes Association calls it a simple, cheap and noninvasive tool but added that more research is needed.

No comments:

Post a Comment