Belly Fat Matters
Belly Fat, Fat Storage and the Risk for Health Problems ,You step on the scale and are pleased when it shows you weigh in at ideal body weight for your height. That’s reassuring, but if you’re carrying too much fat around the middle – the dreaded belly fat, your health risks may be no different than someone who’s obese. According to a new study, where you store your fat matters when it comes to your health.
The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was conducted to determine the rate and incidence of death and heart disease related to BMI and waist-to-hip ratio. It included almost 13,000 adults of all ages. The average age of the participants was 44 years old and included an equal number of men and women. Researchers divided the subjects into groups based on BMI and waist-to-hip ratio and followed them for 14 years.
The results? Those with a high waist-to-hip ratio had double the death rate and a 2.75 times greater risk of heart disease relative to those with a normal waist-to-hip ratio – even with a normal body weight. The conclusion indicated that the fat you carry around your middle counts has a significant impact on your health even if you’re not overweight or obese.
Why Waist and Belly Fat matter it is, Harmful
There are two types of fat: subcutaneous fat, that’s more superficial and visceral fat that lies deeper within the pelvic cavity and isn’t as visible. It’s visceral fat that’s linked with health problems like heart disease. One sign that you have too much visceral fat is a high waist-to-hip ratio. In women, a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.8 or below is considered healthy, while in men a ratio of greater than 1.0 is a risk factor for health problems. To determine your waist-to-hip ratio, measure your waist circumference at the narrowest part of your waistline. Then measure your hip circumference at the widest part of your buttocks. Divide waist circumference by hip circumference to get your ratio.
For more info on belly fat and obesity: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/3/379.full
Why is Waist-to-Hip Ratio Such an Important Measurement of Health and Risk?
Why belly fat matters, Research shows that visceral fat isn’t just a storage organ but rather functions more like an endocrine gland by producing chemicals that increase inflammation and contribute to insulin resistance. This low-grade inflammation and reduced insulin sensitivity increases the risk of health problems like metabolic syndrome, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The best way to reduce visceral abdominal fat and improve your waist-to-hip ratio is through exercise and diet. Are you eating a diet rich in processed carbs? That’s part of the problem. Reduce processed carbohydrates that are rapidly absorbed and increase insulin levels and replace them with fiber-rich carbohydrates from whole food sources like vegetables and whole grains.
What about fats? Eliminate trans-fat from your diet, reduce saturated fat from dairy and animal products. Replace them with healthier fat sources like the monounsaturated fats in olive oil, avocados and nuts. In terms of exercise, high-intensity exercise is best for shedding visceral belly fat as opposed to more sustained moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. If you’re doing moderate-intensity cardio, throw in some high-intensity intervals where you raise your heart rate to 85% to 95% of your maximal heart rate for short periods of time.
Measure Your Waist
Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches may have a higher disease risk than people with smaller waist measurements because of where their fat lies.
The Bottom Line?
Even if you’re normal weight, your waist-to-hip ratio matters. Measure it and make sure your ratio doesn’t put you at higher risk for health problems like heart disease. If so, it’s time to make some changes. Do it for your health, talk with your doctor about options to help you attain a healthier lifestyle.
Check your body mass here; http://quickweightloss.com/bmi-calculator/
References:Diabetes. April 2007. Vol. 56, No. 4. Science Daily. “Normal Weight Individuals with Belly Fat at Highest CVD Risk” Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Nov;40(11):1863-72.