Love handles hurt, even if the rest of you is perfectly healthy. Why?
As your weight creeps up, so does your blood pressure (BP). That's no surprise. But now it turns out that waist size matters, too. Love handles will nudge BP higher, even if you're young (under 44), have a healthy overall weight, and currently have a blood pressure reading under 130/85 mm Hg. There's never been a better reason to watch your waist instead of your scale.
Excess weight sets you up for a host of health woes. But more and more, waist size is linked to poor health, too. Whatever you call it -- muffin top, spare tire, love handles, or beer gut -- that extra padding pushes BP higher, even in young, normal-weight people who do not have high blood pressure.
The reason? When belly fat presses on your kidneys, the bean-shaped organs feel smothered and they panic. In response, they flood your bloodstream with hormones that raise your BP. Think of abdominal obesity as your early warning system for high BP. A thick middle and pants that feel too tight signal that this health risk may not be too far behind.
Here's the trouble zone for unhealthy waist sizes:
Optimal waist size: under 33 inches
Danger zone: 37 inches or more
Optimal waist size: 35 inches or less
Danger zone: 40 inches or more