Abdominal obesity, commonly known as belly fat is clinically diagnosed as central obesity. Not only does it make you look unsightly, it can be dangerous to your health. Numerous research studies have shown a strong correlation between belly fat and the increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
Let’s talk about the social aspects of belly fat first before we get to the health risks. You are likely to be a subject of ridicule by being called by one or more of these popular slangs – beer belly, beer gut, love handles and muffin top. Not very flattering and begin to wear you down emotionally or could lead to serious psychological problems.
Having fat in the belly area is dangerous because it makes you store fat in your liver. This can interfere with the normal function of removing insulin from your bloodstream, making your body resistant to insulin. This excess insulin sends a signal to your brain that makes you prone to overeating. This sets up a vicious cycle of eating more and gaining weight. Being overweight is the leading cause of health problems.
Belly fat and its relationship to diabetes
People with excess belly fat or diagnosed with central obesity are predisposed to insulin resistance as explained earlier. Insulin resistance is a major contributor of developing of diabetes mellitus type 2 (Type 2 diabetes). Additionally, abdominal fat secrets a group of hormones called adipokines that could further reduce glucose tolerance. Major research studies have confirmed this direct relationship between belly fat and the higher risk of diabetes.
Importance of waist–hip ratio (WHR):
WHR is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips. It is calculated by measuring the smaller circumference of the natural waist, usually just above the belly button, and dividing it by the hip circumference at its widest part of the buttocks or hip. The absolute waist circumference (> 40 in (102 cm) in men and > 35 in (88 cm) in women) and the waist-hip ratio, more than 0.9 for men and more than 0.85 for women are used as measures of central obesity.
In a study done by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), WHR has been found to be a more efficient predictor of mortality in older people than waist circumference or body mass index (BMI). If obesity is redefined using WHR instead of BMI, the proportion of people categorized as at risk of heart attack worldwide increases threefold.
From left to right: the “healthy” man has a 33-inch (84 cm) waist, the “overweight” man a 45-inch (114 cm) waist, and the “obese” man a 60-inch (152cm) waist.
What can you do to get rid of belly fat?
Now that you know the harmful side effects of having belly fat, the real question you need to ask yourself is how to get rid of it. It is a common misconception that doing spot exercises like sit-ups, crunches and other abdominal exercises will reduce belly fat. That is simply not true as these exercises build abdominal muscles but have very little effect on losing the fat around the belly.
Probably the best way to lose belly fat is to jog or walk briskly for at least 30 minutes everyday to see measurable results.
Belly dancing is another great way to eliminate fat in belly areas. Belly dancing is not only effective, but also fun. It burns anywhere from 200-400 calories per hour! Belly dancing not only burns fat, but it also tones muscles making your stomach flatter and well toned.
A change in your exercise program as well as eating healthy will help you get rid of belly fat. Replacing high-caloric alcohol drinks with water will significantly decrease the size of your gut. Most mixed drinks have significant amounts of empty calories that will add to the fat in your belly area.
Cutting back on fast food also helps to get rid of that pesky spare tire around your middle. Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet does wonders for your body too.
If you do have a sweet tooth, try to use both artificial and organic sweeteners instead of raw sugar. Any sugar substitute will work in baking and adding to your tea or coffee. Try using honey instead of sugar for a healthier and tasty drink.
Most Americans tends to eat diets that are much higher in sodium content than is necessary. High sodium levels in your body make you thirstier. It is tempting to reach for a cold beer or a sugar-laden cola to quench that thirst. That of course won’t help you lose that belly fat.