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Drop in Abdominal Obesity Cuts Risk of Macular Degeneration

Patients who lower their waist-to-hip ratio, particularly those who are obese, can decrease their odds of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a new report in the Archives of Ophthalmology for November.

Dr. Tien Y. Wong, from the University of Melbourne, Australia, state “With increasing prevalence of obesity, these results should be confirmed in future studies as reduction in risk of AMD may be an additional benefit of reducing weight, especially in obese and overweight patients.”

Prior research looking at the link between obesity, as defined by body mass index, and AMD has yielded conflicting results. The current study, to the authors’ knowledge, is the first to examine how changes in waist-to-hip ratio, body mass index, and weight impact the risk of AMD.

The investigation involved 12,515 subjects, between 45 and 64 years of age, who were enrolled in a population-based cohort study and followed for 6 years.

On average, the waist-to-hip ratio increased by 2%, although changes ranged from a 44% decrease to a 102% increase.
The researchers found that with a 3% or greater drop in waist-to-hip ratio, the odds ratio for AMD was 0.71 compared to people with stable weight. For subjects who were obese at baseline, the reduction in risk was more pronounced, with an odds ratio of 0.41 for AMD.

The authors note that “it will be important to repeat these findings in other studies as the extremes of weight change examined here may not be applicable to other populations.”

Arch Ophthalmol 2008;126:1554-1560.