London: Measure your waist regularly, because the size of your paunch may be directly linked to heart ailments, according to new research conducted by a medical expert of Indian origin. According to Kamlesh Khunti, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Leicester, obesity has now become a worldwide epidemic. Its prevalence has trebled in the last 20 years, and currently over half of women and two-thirds of men in Britain are either overweight or obese. Khunti's research has shown that abdominal obesity, defined by a high waist circumference, is a valid and simple indicator of risk of ill health and a predictor of adverse cardiovascular outcomes. High waist circumference has been shown to be a powerful independent predictor for development of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and sudden death. "The prevalence of abdominal obesity is increasing markedly and is emerging as an important underlying cause of multiple cardiovascular risk factors.” Khunti said. "Health professionals in clinical practice and patients are accustomed to the measurement of weight or body mass index to quantify obesity. However, waist circumference is a better marker for increased cardiovascular risk and there is an urgent need for increasing awareness of the risks associated with abdominal obesity,” he added. Khunti is also the principal investigator on several major studies including Desmond and a multinational collaborative study (Addition). The Leicester Ethnic Atherosclerosis and Diabetes Risk (Leader) Study is one of the world's largest epidemiological cohort study of diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors in Caucasian and South Asian populations.