There are many factors that can affect your likelihood of experiencing anxiety, like gut health and sleep deprivation. And, according to new research, your waist size could also contribute to your chances of developing the mental-health condition.
In the study, published in Menopause, researchers conducted a secondary analysis of data from a study that looked at 5,580 Latin American women aged 40 to 59, and, using the Goldberg Anxiety and Depression Scale to assess anxiety, they found a solid connection between abdominal fat and anxiety. Those who were in the middle and upper third of waist-to-height ratios—which is calculated by taking a person’s waist circumference and dividing it by her height—were “significantly more likely” to have anxiety than those who had smaller waistlines.
Researchers found those in the upper third specifically were more likely to show signs of anxiety—which include feeling nervous or restless, sweating, or having difficulty controlling worrying, the Mayo Clinicreports—than those who were in the lower two thirds. This discovery is especially important since anxiety is also connected to heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, and more, according to Science Daily.
“This study implies that waist-to-height ratio could be a good marker for evaluating patients for anxiety.” —Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS
JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, executive director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), which publishes Menopause, said in a press release, “This study provides valuable insights for health-care providers because it implies that waist-to-height ratio could be a good marker for evaluating patients for anxiety.”
If you’re experiencing anxiety and think your waist size could be to blame, talk to your doc or a nutritionist: Making simple lifestyle changes could help alleviate the problem and have you feeling like your best self in no time.