According to a report in The Daily Mail, the European Congress on Obesity (held in Liverpool, UK) heard research that a 30-year-old man with a huge beer belly is forecast to die almost 17 years before a man with a washboard stomach.
Why is the apple shape worse off? Because characteristically of this body type, even if fat is not immediately noticeable, it is wrapped around the organs and produces hormones and other substances that affect blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. This spikes the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Dr Margaret Ashwell, a former UK government adviser who carried out the analysis advocates comparing waist measurement to height, over the more conventional measurement of Body Mass Index (BMI), a contentious system of measurement noted for classifying athletes as obese.
She told the paper, "This study supports the simple message 'Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height'...or have a waist to height ratio of 0.5 or less."
"The use of weight-to-height ratio in public health screening, with appropriate action, could help add years to life. If health professionals included this simple measurement in screening procedures, many years of productive life could be saved."
But despite the stark warnings to men and women with an apple shape, a lifestyle change may be all that is needed as fat around the waist is easy to keep at bay with diet and exercise.