Researchers from the US found that people who were not overweight but had a bulging midriff were 2.75 times more at risk of cardiovascular disease than normal weight and a proportionate waistline, the Daily Mail reported.
People with a healthy overall weight but too much abdominal fat were even more likely to be heart victims than generally obese people, whose risk was 2.34 times more than those of normal weight with a regular waistline.
Fat packed around the organs in the abdomen is more dangerous than fat on the hips because it is 'metabolically active', releasing more of the inflammatory, toxic chemicals that raise heart disease risk.
"We knew from previous research that central obesity is bad, but what is new in this research is that the distribution of the fat is very important even in people with a normal weight," Dr Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, senior author on the study and a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said.
"This group has the highest death rate, even higher than those who are considered obese based on BMI.
From a public health perspective, this is a significant finding," Lopez-Jimenez was quoted as saying by the paper.
The latest study looked at data on 12,785 people aged 18 and over, who were divided into three categories of Body Mass Index