A person`s hip circumference can help determine their risk for premature death, according to a 20-year Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute study. The study of nearly 8,000 Mauritians in South Asia, corroborated by studies in Australia, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, and Denmark, found a link between lower hip circumference and higher waist circumference with premature death. Fat tissue in the hip area is metabolically different from fat tissue around the waist, and can actually protect against diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Higher hip circumference also can indicate greater muscle mass. By considering both the protective factors associated with a larger hip circumference and the health risks of a high waist circumference, the study underlines how much obesity contributes to premature death. "We knew that higher hip circumference was protective against metabolic diseases such as diabetes as well as death," says lead author Adrian Cameron. "However, we did not know that taking waist and hip circumference into account separately (as opposed to using the waist-to-hip ratio) would reveal such a powerful association between obesity and mortality." People who have big hips and a small waist have the lowest risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.