Good and Bad News About Belly Fat

Posted on April 28, 2006

The bad news about belly fat (visceral fat) is that it is very bad -- worse than other body fat reports the L.A. Times. The good news is that belly fat is the easiest fat to lose.

"Visceral fat is very bad for you," says Richard N. Bergman, a professor at USC's Keck School of Medicine. "It seems to have a more negative outcome on health than overall fat."

The evidence now is so compelling that some experts suggest it's time to forget about scales and weight loss and focus on waists and "inch loss."

Luckily, visceral fat doesn't appear to be a particularly stubborn enemy. Health experts have discovered that consistent, moderate exercise by itself appears to help the body rid itself of vast amounts of deep abdominal fat � even when the scales show the pounds aren't dropping very fast.

This emerging science carries a message for consumers: Measure your waist circumference. And reduce it if need be. Doing something about that paunch could help save your life.

The article cites a November study that appeared in the Lancet that found that a higher waist-to-hip ratio was linked to a greater risk of heart attacks. Other diseases were linked to belly fat as well -- even dementia. That's the bad news. Here is the good news about how belly fat is easier to lose.
That is probably the best news about visceral fat: It's not all that hard to lose, and losing even a little might make a big difference in cardiovascular health. Sit-ups and liposuction won't work (sit-ups merely tighten the muscle and liposuction only removes subcutaneous fat), but studies show that regular diet and exercise can lead to a substantial drop. "It's easier than reducing any other fat because the abdominal fat is metabolically very active," Sharma of McMaster University says.

In fact, studies show that people who lose only 10% to 15% of total body weight can still lose up to 30% of their visceral fat � and reap fast, important benefits. A 2001 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that white and black women on a diet-and-exercise program lost 41% and 37% of their visceral fat, respectively, with a total weight loss of about 15%.

Thinking positive: if you add some regular exercise you can burn off some belly fat and reduce your risk of dementia, heart attacks and other disease at the same time.

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