Extra fat around the waistline increases your chances of dying early, according to a new study.
An American team of researchers found that men and women with bigger waistlines have twice the risk of dying in the next 10 years compared to people with smaller waistlines.
Experts say that although being overweight is unhealthy, having a large belly is especially dangerous since it's been linked to visceral fat, which releases hormones, cytokines and chemicals into the body.
These substances can trigger dementia, heart disease, asthma, and breast cancer.
"The take-home is that it's important to watch your waist as well as your weight," said Dr Eric J. Jacobs, lead author of the study and an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society in Atlanta.
"Even if your weight is normal for your height, if your waist size is increasing, if you're moving to a bigger pant size, that's a warning sign that it's time to start eating better and exercising more," he said.
The study, published in the in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, tracked 48,500 men and 56,343 women aged 50 and older from 1997 to 2006.