Eye Health

Updated 12 March 2018

Belly fat tied to eye disease

New research suggests that people who lose weight around their middle can decrease their odds of developing age-related macular degeneration.

New research suggests that people who lose weight around their middle, particularly those who are obese, can decrease their odds of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of severe vision loss among elderly people.

"Reduction in risk of AMD may be an additional benefit of reducing weight, especially in obese and overweight patients," Dr Tien Y. Wong, from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and co-researchers wrote in a report published this month.

Prior research looking at the link between obesity and AMD has yielded conflicting results. In the current study, Wong's team examined how changes in weight impact the risk of AMD in 12 515 adults between 45 and 64 years old who were followed for 6 years.

On average, the so-called waist-to-hip ratio increased by 2 percent, although changes ranged from a 44 percent decrease to a 102 percent increase.

Waist-to-hip ratio is calculated by dividing the circumference of the waist by the circumference of the hips. More belly fat results in higher ratios.

Risk fell significantly
The researchers found that with a 3 percent or greater drop in waist-to-hip ratio, the odds of AMD fell significantly compared to people with stable weight.

For subjects who were obese at the start of the study, the reduction in AMD risk was even more pronounced.

"It will be important to repeat these findings in other studies," the researchers note, "as the extremes of weight change examined here may not be applicable to other populations."

SOURCE: Archives of Ophthalmology, November 2008. – (Reuters Health)

November 2008


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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