Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: belly | fat | stomach | fat | abdominal | fat | heart

Is Belly Fat Dangerous?

Monday, 21 May 2012 09:39 AM

Question: I am 63 and have had fat in the mid-section and the lower abdomen ever since giving birth to my second child at age 23. I weigh 162 and I’m 5-foot-8. My legs and arms remain slim. My question is, does the type of fat I have increase my chances of getting heart disease?


Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Truncal obesity is associated with increased cardiac risk and increased metabolic disease risk such as Type 2 diabetes mellitus, and this type of fat distribution is associated with increased cardiac risk and metabolic syndrome X development. Note that BMI is only a general population guide and the index being normal does not always reflect true health risks when abnormal fat distribution is evident. That being said , your body mass index (BMI) calculation based on height and weight is 24.6, which falls under normal range, that is, between 18.5–24.9. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.
However, a study that was published in a journal of the American Heart Association, using the waist-hip ratio rather than waist measurement alone is a better predictor of heart disease risk among both, men and women. For this, use a measuring tape to check the waist and hip measurements. The hip circumference at its widest part and waist circumference is at the belly button or just above it. A big waist with comparably big hips may not be as worrisome as a big waist with small hips. Just as BMI calculators are available, waist-hip ratio calculators are also available on the internet (http://www.healthcalculators.org/calculators/waist_hip.asp).
Belly fat tends to accumulate after childbirth, and hence exercises are recommended to tone lax abdominal musculature. For women, this can also happen after menopause, when body fat tends to shift from the arms, legs and hips to the abdomen. This fat can also include visceral fat — which lies deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your internal organs, which poses dangerous health consequences. That's because an excessive amount of visceral fat produces hormones and other substances that can raise blood pressure, negatively alter good and bad cholesterol levels, and impair the body's ability to use insulin (insulin resistance). Therefore, keeping a check on diet combined with exercises is the cornerstone to a healthy heart.
To lose excess fat and keep it from coming back, aim for slow and steady weight loss — up to 2 pounds (1 kilogram) a week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging, for at least 75 minutes a week. In addition, strength training exercises are recommended at least twice a week.

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Monday, 21 May 2012 09:39 AM
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