Carrying extra fat around your middle dramatically increases your risk of early death, even if your overall weight is normal, say researchers.
A study of almost 360,000 people from nine European countries found waist size a "powerful indicator" of risk.
Each extra 2ins (5cm) raised the chance of early death by between 13% and 17%.
The New England Journal of Medicine study stressed GPs should regularly measure patients' waists as a cheap and easy way to assess health.
A British Heart Foundation spokesman welcomed the findings, saying they supported previous research which found the risk of heart disease to be higher when fat was concentrated around the waist area.
"It is important a variety of measurements are used to assess body weight and shape. - as well as BMI (Body Mass Index), waist circumference and waist-hip ratio can help to provide a better assessment of health risk.
"If you tend to gather weight around your middle, increasing the amount of activity you do and watching what you eat will help to reduce your risk of heart disease and of dying early."
I have belly fat. Lots and lots of it. I live with PCOS which is a genetic disease, which 1 in 5 women suffer from across the world. One of the major symptoms is belly fat.
I went to an endocrinologist in Singapore, supposedly an expert, who told me to go and lose weight. Wow. What a fucking expert? Nobody had ever thought to advise that particular remedy before. I asked him how to lose weight considering that there is no safe medical way to make a fat person thin or a thin person fat. He told me to consider bariatic surgery. Despite my rising rage, I asked him whether it would cure my PCOS, knowing full well that it would not, and he said maybe - lying sack of shit. I replied that thin women suffer from PCOS too, and asked him what he would advise in that case. He said diet and exercise. I eat healthily and exercise most of the time. It's not a solution to losing weight. It's the solution for being healthy as long as you don't have depression, fibro, PCOS, CFS...
And fyi BMI is a crock of shit. Loads of research has come out on fat and heart attacks. Plus, the image of the fatty stuffing their face with doughnuts all day long is a stupid stereotype and is not upheld by the facts.
There are many reasons why people are fat but the primary reason is genetics.
Go peddle your scaremongering elsewhere.
ETA: Kate Harding's essay "Don't you realise fat is unhealthy" is recommended reading.