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.

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.

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

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