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Around the world, people generate more than 2 billion metric tons of solid waste annually — and high-income countries like the U.S. account for more than a third of that pollution. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Americans are also experts at accumulating pollution around their waists. Since 1999, the average American guy's waist size has grown from a bit over 38 inches to more than 40 inches, and gals have gone from more than 36 to almost 39 inches. It's visceral belly fat that expands your waist as it snuggles up around your internal organs, fueling inflammation that interferes with the proper functioning of everything from your pancreas to your brain.

According to a study of 872,000 people over age 65 that was published in Obesity, your risk for dementia starts to increase when your waist circumference exceeds 35 inches for men and 33.5 inches for women — no matter what your weight. Clearly, we're in the dementia danger zone in this country.

Visceral fat finds a home because of a lack of physical activity and poor nutritional choices. So take a minute to measure your waist circumference. If it's above 37 inches for men and 35 for women, it increases your risk for premature aging, heart disease and other chronic conditions. But dementia risk may begin even sooner, according to the study in Obesity. So ditch all highly- and ultra-processed foods, red meats and added sugars and syrups and make sure to get 10,000 steps a day or the equivalent. Waste that waist!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

King Features Syndicate

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