July 8th, 2013
Abdominal obesity, also known as belly fat or clinically as central obesity, is excessive abdominal fat around the stomach and abdomen. It can also occur in both children and teenagers if either of their parents have abdominal obesity.
Abdominal fat is thought to break down easily into fatty acids, which flow directly into the liver and into muscle.
When these excess fatty acids drain into the liver, they trigger a chain reaction of changes; increasing the production of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides. During this time insulin can also become less effective in controlling blood sugar, so insulin resistance sets in, blood sugars start to get out of balance. Fats and clots get into the bloodstream, and that sets the stage for diabetes, heart disease, and more.
And research shows that abdominal fat triggers a change in angiotensin, a hormone that controls blood vessel constriction — increasing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
Indeed, belly fat is a key indicator of “metabolic syndrome,” a cluster of abnormalities that include high levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides, as well as low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
This combination of risks has an impact on mortality from heart disease.
The most precise way to determine how much visceral fat you have is to get a CT scan or MRI. But you don’t need to go that far to get a sense of whether or not the fat inside you is putting your health at risk.
Get a measuring tape, wrap it around your waist, and check your girth. Do it while you’re standing up, and make sure the tape measure is level. For the minimal effect on your health, you want your waist size to be less than 35 inches if you’re a woman and less than 40 inches if you’re a man. Having a “pear shape” — fatter hips and thighs — is considered safer than an “apple shape,” which describes a wider waistline.
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