The belly is connected to the heart

If you've let yourself go a little over the years, you're hardly alone. But if you think you can be overweight or obese and still be healthy, I've got a new study on the major risk factors for heart disease you need to see.

It puts to bed the myth that it's OK to be obese as long as you're healthy by other standards -- because it shows how extra weight alone, even without any other risk factors for heart disease, can lead directly to it. Or worse, leave you staring straight down the barrel of a heart attack

If you're obese, your risk of a heart attack is double what it should be, and your risk factors for heart disease are 64 percent higher, according to the new study. And if you're overweight but not obese, your heart attack risk is 38 percent higher and your heart disease risk is 25 percent higher.

Now, that alone isn't a surprise. If anything, I'd say the numbers are a tad on the low side.

No, what some people have found surprising (but not me) is that the risks were high even when the researchers pulled out all the other possible risk factors for heart problems -- especially the "big three" that make up metabolic syndrome: high blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Yes, all of those conditions will raise your heart risk no matter how much you weigh. But if you're overweight or obese, they're not the main reason you face a higher risk of heart problems.

In fact, the study finds those risk factors for heart disease account for between 12 percent and 26 percent of the risk in the overweight and the obese.

The rest comes from those extra pounds you're lugging around.

So if you're overweight or obese but believe you're otherwise healthy, consider this your wakeup call -- because along with heart attack and heart disease, too much body fat can increase your risk of everything from arthritis to cancer.

(In fact, obesity is the number two cause of cancer... second only to smoking! Click here to learn more.)

If your BMI is higher than 25, you're officially overweight. If it's above 30, you're obese. While these numbers alone aren't the final word in your health, they make for a pretty good starting point -- and if you're above them, it's time to get to work on your waistline.

One of the safest, easiest and most painless ways to get it done is with the Mediterranean diet that's been proven to help lose weight, fight heart disease and prevent heart attack and stroke.

For more information, read this free report from my House Calls archives.