Waist size was strongly associated with the risk of death, according to a recent study (The New England Journal of Medicine 2008, 359:20). The risk of death was 2 times higher in people with highest waist circumferences (even with normal body weights!). This was a very elegant and clear demonstration of the importance of controlling and prevention of abdominal (or visceral) obesity.
Why should we care?
($$$ Unless you enjoy wasting money, you should).
Because people will have to accept the notion that overeating relative to the calories burned through physical activity leads to premature aging, illnesses and death. Also, there is the issue of the ever-expanding arsenal of medications being offered to treat all of our weight-related problems; these medicines come with co-pays, lab tests and other medical care (i.e. co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses). So, even if you are not motivated by some remote and vague goal of health, cutting your present medical bills might motivate a second look at a salad bar instead of a higher calorie option.
Seek out calorie-controlled meal alternatives, which will provide you with quality nutrition without the extra calories. This way you will minimize the risks of gaining the unwanted poinds, especially around the all-important midsection.
Add regular exercise to your weekly schedule (which will double as the best stress-management technique) and enjoy a long and healthy (i.e. less money wasted on medical expenses) life.