What are the Health Risks of Belly Fat?

Belly fat
Although often treated lightly, belly fat is more than just an inconvenience for our physical appearance. A thicker waistline definitely prevents one from enjoying favorite clothes or from engaging in physical activities that one used to love. Even tying the shoe laces could prove a challenge because of the apple-shaped belly. However, the belly fat (also known as abdominal or visceral obesity) problem runs deeper than that.

Belly fat interferes with normal body functions

Belly fat poses great risks for the overall health condition as it impacts the body negatively in two distinct ways:

1. The fat is located not only on the outside, under the skin, but also inside the abdominal cavity. The internal organs, and the intestines are thus wrapped in fatty tissue, and they suffer because of this internal pressure. High tension in the organs and dysfunctions then follow.

2. Abdominal fat is not idle tissue. It produces hormones and inflammatory substances that create chemical imbalances in the system. When belly fat breaks down, fatty acids pass into the liver and the blood stream, altering the metabolic processes and interfering with the normal functionality of the body.

Belly fat: a starting point for chronic disease

Diabetes settles in when insulin loses efficiency at controlling the blood sugar level. Belly fat favors this imbalance in two ways:

1) by secreting hormones that impair glucose tolerance.
2) by raising serum resistin (an adipose-derived hormone) levels and thus insulin resistance.

Research shows that belly fat also triggers a chemical imbalance in angiotensin, a blood pressure regulating hormone, thus becoming responsible for hypertension. High blood pressure in its turn, may lead to stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure, aneurysms, blockage in the blood vessels and even death.

Heart disease is associated with high levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides. The excessive production of bad cholesterol (LDL) represents one of the most serious consequences of abdominal obesity. With fats and clots getting in the blood stream, and with the arteries narrowed because of the cholesterol deposits, heart disease develops quickly and sometimes fatally.

Studies have also revealed a close connection between belly fat, general body fat and cancer. When fats break down in the body system, all sorts of chemicals are released into the blood stream. These chemicals trigger rapid cellular growth, which explains for the quick proliferation of cancerous cells.

Doctors warn against the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease as a result of the metabolic and vascular dysfunctions that accompany abdominal obesity. Scientific research further indicates a relation between mid-life obesity and dementia according to a U.S. study reported in the Annals of Neurology in May 2010.

Belly fat could worsen your asthma too! Overweight people breathe more quickly and inhale smaller volumes of air. Because of a lower air volume, the airways narrow and the muscles tighten, thus creating the conditions for an asthma attack.

Belly fat affects both genders!

Both genders are negatively affected by belly fat, yet differently.

In men belly fat appears in adolescence and early adulthood, while women are more affected after menopause. This is one of the reasons why coronary disease affects men five times more often than women.

Alcohol consumption has been associated with visceral fat in men, but not in women. Hence the name of beer belly. The chemical imbalances due to belly fat actually worsen because of alcohol consumption.

Abdominal obesity alters the pulmonary function more often in men than in women.

On the other hand, women with excessive belly fat have a higher risk of getting gallstone surgery.

Central obesity might also make it more difficult to get pregnant.

There is also one-third higher risk of breast cancer in women with belly fat.

To sum up: belly fat may start an incredibly powerful chain reaction in the body, destroying:

- the cardio-vascular system and causing heart disease;
- the digestive system leading to diabetes;
- the natural and normal multiplication of cells, triggering cancer.

Hopefully, you'll take the necessary steps to fight belly fat and general overweight before your health condition deteriorates. There is always hope!

Written By: Catalina Cimpoeru, Sibiu, Romania

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice