Sunday, June 16, 2019


Saffolalife launches flagship study on belly fat impact on heart health
Friday, 28 September, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Shraddha Joshi, Mumbai
Saffolalife, a not-for-profit initiative started over a decade ago, has been working towards creating awareness on heart health in India. In line with World Heart Day, it released a flagship study, titled Saffolalife Study 2018: Impact of Belly Fat on Heart Health.

With growing lifestyle challenges, people in India are now at risk of heart diseases at much younger age, with major reasons being working hours, stress, irregular meals, sleep deprivation and a sedentary routine.

While body mass index (BMI) is the most common researched measure of generalised obesity, belly fat is a far more important factor for cardiovascular risk. However, there is a lack of awareness among people, and in order to create awareness regarding the issue, the study addressed the impact of belly fat on heart health.

The key finding that emerged from the study is that the belly had an great impact on heart health and also highlighted the factors common to those with belly fat and the resultant impact. One of the key takeaways from the survey was that one may be at heart risk if he/she sported a paunch, even if he/she had a lean body.

Addressing the media about belly fat and the findings of the study, Dr Shashank Joshi, endocrinologist said, “Belly fat is not only a common indicator for obese people around the world, but it is also prevalent among people who have BMI lying in the normal and overweight range. A study across the United States, New Zealand, Greece and Iceland shows that 90 per cent of the men and 80 per cent of women have belly fat. The problem of belly fat is more acute in India then rest of the world.”

Joshi added, “Belly fat is a metabolically-active fat, which is the forerunner of cardiovascular problems, and hence, has a serious impact on the heart health of an individual.”

Saffolalife, along with Neilsen, conducted a pan-India survey amongst Indians who have belly fat to understand the extent of heart risk. The study covered around 837 (419 males and 418 females) respondents from four key cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Lucknow. The criteria for selection was age between 30 to 55 years with a BMI of 18 and above, waist circumference of 90cm (men) and 80cm (women) and individuals should meet one of the conditions for women and two for men, including diabetes, blood pressure and smoking.

Some of the startling facts from the study revolved around age, gender and lifestyle implications on heart health due to belly fat.

Some of the key finding were as follows:
  • Indians at heart risk: While the country was at a 67 per cent risk, Mumbai was at 77 per cent, followed by Delhi (69 per cent), Lucknow (66 per cent) and Hyderabad (58 per cent)
  • Low awareness of the impact of belly fat on heart health: Eight out of 10 (83 per cent) Indians who are at heart risk due to belly fat don't consider it as a top reason for heart risk. Delhi tops in lack of awareness with 88 per cent, followed by Hyderabad, Lucknow and Mumbai at 85, 84 and 79 per cent, respectively
  • Three out of five Indians (60 per cent) with belly fat who are below the age of 35 are at heart risk
  • Two out of three Indians (67 per cent) with belly fat who are below the age of 45 are at heart risk
  • The study pointed out that Mumbaikars under 45 years of age were at a higher risk compared to other cities
  • Sixty-eight per cent of working professionals and 65 per cent of housewives with belly fat are at heart risk. Working professionals in Mumbai are at the highest heart risk among the four cities with 80 per cent
  • BMI range: Heart risk due to belly fat with BMI between 18 and 23 was calculated at 63 per cent, BMI between 23 and 25 was at 65 per cent and BMI above 25 was at 69 per cent
Speaking about healthy lifestyles, Pooja Makhija, nutritionist, said, “Saffolalife study shows a strong correlation between belly fat and heart health risk, and hence, maintaining belly fat is very critical.”

“Every individual should start making small but significant changes in their lifestyles to address the fat issue. This can be easily achieved by eating right, avoiding junk food, exercising regularly, sleeping well and reducing stress,” she added.

Giving a few statistics on food habits among individuals across India, Makhija mentioned that Indians who were at heart risk due to belly fat caused by eating heavy dinners, eating out and eating junk food at least once a week were about 73 per cent, 83 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively.

Over the past decades, Saffolalife has driven thought leadership in heart health through various endeavours during World Heart Day. The initiative addressed health and nutrition aspects of heart health and heart care and sought to impart accurate, credible and expert-led information. It also had another initiative in its fold, namely the Heart Risk Calculator.
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