The dangers of belly fat


From Metro Creative Services

A desire to lose weight and look good compels millions of people to adopt healthy habits every day. But shedding fat is about more than looking good, especially when that fat has accumulated in individuals’ abdomens.

Individuals may aspire to lose belly fat so they can fit into old outfits or look better in photos, and those are perfectly valid reasons to embrace healthy weight loss strategies. However, an even better reason to banish excessive belly fat is the link that such fat has to long-term health problems.

What’s so bad about belly fat?

Seeing belly fat as a merely cosmetic concern overlooks the effects it has on overall health. According to the Mayo Clinic, belly fat is not limited to the extra layer of padding just below the skin known as subcutaneous fat. Belly fat also includes visceral fat, which means it extends to deep inside the abdomen and surrounds internal organs. Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that visceral fat in the belly is very close to the liver, which can turn it into cholesterol. From there, the fat goes through the bloodstream and may collect along the walls of the arteries, potentially contributing to a hardening and narrowing of the arteries known as atherosclerosis. The complications of atherosclerosis depends on which arteries are affected, but they can include an assortment of diseases that affect the arteries and a greater risk for aneurysms and chronic kidney disease.

Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that visceral fat is just as harmful for the heart as high blood pressure and smoking. So while efforts to reduce belly fat may initially be embraced to improve appearance, individuals should know that reducing fat in their midsections also can reduce their risk for a host of conditions, some of which are deadly.

How much belly fat is too much?

No two individuals are the same, and some who are already at increased risk for heart disease and other ailments may be in greater danger than others if they have a significant amount of belly fat. But the National Institutes of Health notes that women with a waist that is more than 40 inches and men with a waist that is more than 35 inches may be more likely to develop health problems related to belly fat, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes, than their peers with smaller waistlines.

What are the best ways to decrease belly fat?

Individuals with substantial belly fat should work in concert with their physicians to develop a healthy regimen to decrease that fat. A combination of diet and exercise is generally recommended, but how much exercise and which foods to eat will depend on individuals’ current conditions and medical histories. So it’s imperative that individuals speak to their physicians before making any drastic changes to their diets and fitness regimens.

Ample belly fat poses a significant threat to individuals’ overall health. Embracing strategies to reduce belly fat through healthy means can help people slim down and improve their long-term health outlook.

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