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Dangers of Abdominal Fat
In April 2007 a research team from the University of South Korea reported that the dangers of visceral fat were greater than previously supposed. Their research showed that fat, particularly located around the abdominal areas, led to an increase in the risk of heart disease. Indeed a person with this kind of fat was found to be a greater risk than an overweight person without visceral fat. Around the same time at Washington University School of Medicine another research team was linking abdominal fat with an increase in inflammation, which is also linked to increase risks of heart disease. As well as this, abdominal fat is also thought to put people at higher risk of type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea. This article will consider in more detail the dangers of abdominal fat and what can be done about it.
What is visceral fat?
Your body contains two kinds of fat. The first is ordinary fat (subcutaneous fat), this is the fat that lies just underneath your skin, and generally makes up 80% of your body fat. The second kind of fat, visceral fat, is found within your body and around your body organs. This is a harder kind of fat which you may feel if you try to push your stomach in. Approximately 40% of people are thought to have too much visceral fat around their abdominal organs and both the research reports mentioned above cite abdominal (visceral) fat as a key area of concern.
Why is visceral fat worse for our health than ordinary fat?
Visceral fat, found around the organs of our body, seems to restrict blood flow, and in turn leads to a higher risk of heart disease. Also it has been found that the molecules in abdominal fat secrete high levels of interleukin-6, a molecule that triggers inflammation. This inflammation is also linked to increased risks of heart disease, and type II diabetes.
Am I at danger from visceral fat levels?
Until now the only way of knowing if you were carrying high levels of visceral fat was by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to take a picture of your abdomen. The research carried out in South Korea suggested that another way of measuring visceral fat was by using a cuff device attached to your arm or leg. The test measured the flexibility of a person’s artery walls. The more elastic they were, the better the person’s circulation, and hence the less visceral fat they had. It is thought that this type of testing would provide a much cheaper and less time consuming method of determining someone’s risk of heart disease. With this advance warning a person would have opportunity to do something about their health before it was too late.
What can be done?
The good news is that although visceral fat is dangerous for your health, by taking regular exercise it is easy to reduce this fat and even remove it. Regular exercise will also help prevent a build up of this fat. At the same time it is also worth thinking about your diet. Research shows that people whose diets contain polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats are found to have lower amounts of visceral fat. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in sunflower oil, corn oil, and soybean oils, as well as in fish. Bearing in mind all that has been mentioned in this article health experts continue to stress that traditional risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking continue to be even more dangerous than levels of visceral fat.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Metabolic Process30 Jan 2009|