Harvard Heart Letter

Watch your weight and your waist: Extra pounds may mean heart disease

When the scale starts creeping up, here's what you should do, and why. Beware: belly fat is particularly dangerous.

Starting at around age 30, it's common to begin putting on weight. It may not be much—a couple of pounds a year—but it adds up over time. Those extra pounds—particularly in the belly—increase the risk of heart disease.

By age 70, many seniors have put on a significant number of pounds. Their doctor may recommend that they take steps to stop the upward trend, but many seniors don't want to bother. Some have given up after failing at many diets. Others are convinced that weight doesn't matter at their age. But Dr. George Blackburn, associate director of the division of nutrition at Harvard Medical School, says this reasoning is faulty.

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