Q: I'm not THAT overweight, but I have a big gut. My doctor says I have to lose my belly, but I shouldn't lose much weight overall. How does that work, and why does it matter?
JOSEPH L., Asbury Park, N.J.
A: Your doctor is giving you good advice. A large waist size is linked to poor health and premature death, even if your body mass index (your weight in relationship to your height) is in a normal range. Recently, researchers looked at 11 studies of 650,000 people and found that men with the largest waist size died three years sooner than those with the trimmest waistline (big-waisted women died five years earlier.). These findings reinforce the results of another new study that found it's more accurate to use the innovative (though oddly named) A Body Shape Index (ABSI) than Body Mass Index (BMI) to evaluate your health; ABSI is based on waist size.
Eat less saturated fats, sugars and syrups, and move more, Joe! That's how you'll burn off your visceral belly fat, which is linked to insulin resistance (a risk for diabetes), elevated triglycerides, higher levels of dangerous LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Start enjoying healthy proteins and fats from grains, beans and fish. Eliminate saturated fats from meat, dairy, two-legged animal skin, and palm and coconut oil. Avoid all trans fats.
Reclaim your heart health and burn fat by aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day. It does take work, but you'll feel so much healthier and happier.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.