Research by New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine observed 2,683 women who weren't overweight and had already gone through the menopause to show that those with waists that were wider than their hips - typically increasing body fat - were three times as likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
Prof Qibin Qi said: "People may need to pay attention to their regional body fat, even those who have a healthy body weight.
"In routine clinical practice, BMI is a common approach to assessing a person's risk of cardiovascular disease.
"Measurement of waist circumference is also recommended by national organisation to provide additional information, but usually only in those with a BMI between 25 to 34.9."
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