Should you be concerned by your belly fat?

Your belly fat may be more dangerous to your health than you imagine.

woman measuring her waist with a measuring tape against a white background

If you have a little too much fat around your middle, you may be doing yourself more harm than you imagine. Learn whether your belly fat is a health risk and how you can fix it.

Living in these weight-conscious times, there is much debate about how your weight can affect your health. Now, if you have a curvaceous figure or if you’re carrying a little bit of extra weight on your hips, it may not be cause for concern. However, there is one part of the body where, according to most doctors, fat is considered especially dangerous.

Fat around the midsection – known as abdominal obesity, central or visceral obesity – dramatically increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even some forms of cancer.

How do you know if this means you? Generally, if a man’s waist circumference measures more than 102cm, or a woman’s waist is more than 88cm, they are considered abdominally obese.

While men are more likely to be abdominally obese than women, once the fairer sex are post-menopausal and begin to lose estrogen, they are just as likely to develop larger bellies.

Abdominal fat contains two different types of fat – one is called subcutaneous fat, which is located just below the skin and is not considered so dangerous. While subcutaneous fat may not be so bad, if you have excessive stomach fat it will usually consist of visceral fat, which builds up around your internal organs and can cause organ malfunction.

Visceral fat also produces a molecule called adipokine and other toxins that can increase your risk of coronary artery disease, gingivitis and other health issues.

The main health concerns associated with abdominal obesity are diabetes, cholesterol problems and heart disease. Belly fat can also can affect your hormones and create issues with insulin control.

So, what can you do about it?
The short answer: lose weight. Although, for many people, that’s not as easy as it sounds. At the very least, try to reduce your calorie intake, eat more raw fruits and vegetables (not fruit juice!), increase your fibre intake and cut out saturated and trans fats. Try to eat natural, wholefoods and exercise a bit more. Sleep is also highly recommended.

If you’re on your bum a lot of the time, make sure you get up at least once per hour, walk around, do some stretches and get active. Even when you’re sitting down you can do some things to keep your body moving, such as tapping your feet, moving your legs up and down (with your feet on the floor) or doing leg lifts. Instead of taking the escalator or lift, take the stairs and restrict your TV time and do some work around the house instead.

If you really can’t shed abdominal fat, there is a more extreme option called bariatric surgery, which should really only be considered as a last resort.

Are you worried about your belly fat? What suggestions do you have for our members who may struggle to maintain a healthy weight?

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