This one measurement tells you everything

Forget the scale... and break out the measuring tape.

We all like to associate our weight with our health, but let's face it: It's not because it's the BEST measurement.

It's the EASIEST!

We can step on the scale and get an instant answer (even if it's one that makes you want to hide the scale in the closet and never step on it again).

But while your weight certainly is important, new research shows how your waistline is an even BIGGER indication of your health and the risks you're facing.

Fat that gathers around your middle is often far more dangerous than fat more evenly distributed around your body. It's a sign of organ-squeezing, disease-causing visceral fat, which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and an early death.

Now, the new study shows how this dangerous fat around your middle can increase your risk of dying -- whether you're overweight or not.

If you have a normal BMI but extra belly fat, you're facing a 22 percent higher risk of death from any cause and a 25 percent jump in your risk of dying from heart problems when compared to someone with the same BMI but less fat in the middle.

If you're overweight or obese, you're already facing a higher risk of heart disease and an early death... but the risk jumps yet again if you have excess fat on the middle.

If you're overweight with too much belly fat, your risk of death from heart problems jumps by 26 percent.

If you're obese and have that bulging midsection, your risk of death overall rises by 13 percent and your risk of death from heart conditions jumps by 56 percent.

Obviously, figuring out where you stand is more complicated than stepping on the scale.

It's even more complex than calculating your BMI, which can look like something only a math major can figure out.

But it's not as hard as it sounds.

You have to measure your waist at its narrowest point, and your hips at its widest and calculate the radio.

If calculating ratios is something you haven't done since grade school, Google "waist to hip ratio calculator" for some helpful online tools where you just plug in the two measurements and get a result.

For guys, you want a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.90. Ladies, aim for 0.85. Any higher, you're at risk for heart disease and other health problems... so work on bringing the belt in a couple of notches.