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Abdominal obesity and your health

Abdominal Obesity

from Wikipedia

I just found out that there’s such thing as abdominal obesity this morning while reading on “How Not to Die”.

I thought that there’s just obesity.

Nonetheless, according to the book, such condition and it negative side-effects can be permanently solved with a new healthy diets. More on healthy diets as I goes along the book.

Well, abdominal obesity, means excess body fat around the abdominal part of our body has serious consequences for health. Often, it’s associated with high levels of LDL (Bad) cholesterol and triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels. This excess body fat contributes to major causes of death and disability including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, fatty liver and even depression.

Evaluating Obesity & BMI

BMI provides good estimate of body fat and more accurate than skin-fold measurements. But it has several flaws.

For example, highly trained athletes with big muscles can have BMIs with little body fat. Take ‘The Rock’ for example, the guy’s huge.

At the other extreme, the BMI may fail to accurately reflect body fatness in adults who have lost substantial amounts of muscle mass.

But the most crucial problem with BMI is that it reflects total body fat without regards as to how the fat is distribute.

Although, no excess fat is good, one type of excess fat is much more dangerous than the others. Meaning, abdominal fat (obesity) is the worse of the worst.

Inside the Abdominal Obesity

Visceral fat, is fat located around the internal organs, and it’s the true villain of the piece. One of the earliest explanations for this was that visceral obesity was linked to over-activity of the body’s stress response mechanism, which raise blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cardiac risk.

Lipotoxicity, is a newer explanation on this, which refers to visceral fat cells release their metabolic products directly into the portal circulation, which carries blood straight to the liver. Then, this lead to free fatty acids accumulate in the pancreas, hearts and other organs which are not meant to store fat.

The result is organ dysfunction, which produces impaired regulation of insulin, blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as abnormal heart function.

In summary, regardless of which explanation you believe in. They both are bad. All clinical observations and basic research agree that excessive fat inside the abdomen is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.

Evaluating Abdominal Obesity

Most accurate would be computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the amount of visceral fat but they’re expensive.

A simpler and much cheaper way to do so is to determine the waist-to-hip ratio.

With your abdomen relaxed, measure your waist at the navel. Next, measure your hips at their widest point, usually at the bony prominences. Finally, divide your waist size by your hip size:
Waist (in inches) / Hips (in inches) = ratio

How does your ratio translate into health risk? The chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke increases steadily as a man’s ratio rises above 0.95; for women, risk begins to rise above 0.85.

The waist-to-hip ratio is a very useful tool. But many experts are now turning to an even simpler technique: waist circumference. Because it involves one measurement instead of two, it’s more accurate and reproducible than the waist-to-hip ratio.

To measure your waist circumference properly, take your shoes off and stand with your feet together. Be sure your belly is bare. Relax and exhale. Using a cloth measuring tape that can’t be stretched, not the stiff metal tape from your toolbox, measure your waist at the navel. Be sure to keep the tape parallel to the ground. Record the measurement to the nearest one-tenth of an inch.


Remember the basics, the only way to reduce visceral fat is to lose weight. Sustained weight loss requires both caloric restriction and increased exercise.

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