Many people state that the one thing they’d like to change about their bodies is the extra weight they’re carrying around their middle. They find this belly bulge unsightly and it makes them self conscious, so they want to lose belly fat. However, what these people may not realize is that it’s more than cosmetic; carrying excess weight around your middle poses a serious health risk.
Hidden Dangers of Belly Fat
Scientific research has clearly demonstrated that having excess body fat is unhealthy. What many people don’t understand is that all fat is not created equal.
Know Your Fat
There are two types of fat, subcutaneous fat, which lies beneath the skin and on top of the abdominal muscles. This is the fat you can actually grab. It’s the fat that jiggles when you walk. Then there’s visceral fat, this fat lies deeper in the abdomen, beneath your abdominal muscles, where it wraps around (and sometimes invades) the internal organs, including the heart.
The Dangers of Visceral Fat
Visceral fat cells are metabolically active tissue. They produce hormones and other substances that can affect your health (e.g. increased insulin resistance and/or breast cancer risk). For example, visceral fat next to the liver drains into it, causing a fatty liver, which is a risk factor for insulin resistance, setting the stage for Type 2 diabetes. This fat also releases more inflammatory molecules into your body on a consistent basis.
You Don’t Have to be Obese to Have Dangerous Visceral Fat
Although people who are overweight or obese are more likely to have large amounts of visceral fat, normal-weight people can also have too much. Men with a waist size larger than 40 inches, and women whose waists are larger than 35 inches, are at the greatest risk of developing health problems from too much hidden belly fat.
If your waist measurement is that high, “you’ve fallen off the edge of the cliff,” says George Blackburn, associate director of the division of nutrition at Harvard Medical School. It’s time to lose belly fat and reduce this serious health risk.
Feel Better when You Lose Belly Fat
Belly fat isn’t just bad for the heart, it may also be giving people the blues. A study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago linked depression among middle-age women with the accumulation of visceral fat. The good news, moderate exercise, even a walk around the block can help you fight back and feel better.
If you’ve been wanting to shed a few pounds and flatten your abs for summer, you might want to think again. Losing belly fat is not just about looking better. It’s about being healthier and living longer.