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Dangerous Eye Disease Linked to Big Bellies

A study published in the November 2008 issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology found that a reduction in belly fat may lower your risk of developing age related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD affects a part of the eye called the macula, which allows humans to see fine details.  It is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 55.  In fact, an estimated 25-30 million people worldwide suffer from the disease.

For some people the disease advances slowly, without significant loss in vision for a long period of time. For others, it progresses rapidly and can result in blindness.

For the study, researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia followed 12,500 participants between the age of 45 and 64.

Over the course of six years, researchers measured changes in waist-to-hip ratio (relative belly size) in order to analyze the association between weight change and AMD. The average change in waist-to-hip ratio during the course of the study was a 2 percent increase.

The researchers found that a decrease in hip-to-waste ratio of 3 percent or more resulted in a 29 percent lower risk of developing AMD. The results were even more promising for heavier participants. A decrease of 3 percent for those who were obese at the start of the study was associated with a 59 percent reduction in AMD risk.

This is yet another study showing how excess body fat can increase your risk for a variety of diseases. Obesity has been linked to higher risk for diabetes, heart attack and stroke, just to name a few.

A study published earlier this year in the journal Neurology even found that participants with large bellies were 3.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia when compared to people with a healthy belly size.

There are a number of steps you can take to lose weight. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are obvious. Recently, studies have also shown that eating a high protein breakfast, getting more calcium and maintaining a food diary may aid weight loss as well.
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