By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – This is the perfect time of year to begin a reasonable weight loss program. You have plenty of time before summer and it allows you to take your time – remember you can’t undo years of damage in a week or a month.

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You could look better in that bathing suit in a few months but there is a far more important reason to take a look at the waistline. According to research from Ohio State, even a marginally increased waistline is strongly associated with high blood pressure problems in adults.

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In fact, some experts are suggesting that increased waist circumference should be added to heart risk assessment tools, like cigarette smoking and high cholesterol.

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This is not the first study to point out the importance of looking at waist circumference. It’s a very important issue.