The Dangers of Belly Fat

To all of you who carry your weight around in your hips and legs, you are actually better off than those who carry it in their bellies!

Belly fat (or more aptly put, abdominal obesity) can be very dangerous. To determine if you are in the danger zone you need to determine your waist-hip ratio.  Measure your waist (the waist-line goes across your navel) divide that by your hip measurement (measure at the widest part of your hips about 5″ below your waist).  The danger zone for women is a measurement of .85 or more, for men, anything greater than or equal to 1.0 is dangerous.

Excess belly fat is linked to diabetes and heart disease.  According to DrMerkin.com  People who store fat primarily in their bellies have higher blood insulin and sugar levels, and higher levels of the bad cholesterol.

Belly fat is also linked to stroke.  Women with a waist measurement of 35″ or greater, and men 40″ or greater had four times the stroke risk when compared with people with typical waistlines.

Belly fat is also a risk factor for osteoporosis as it results in low bone density. And, studies show that abdominal fat is associated with  less total brain volume linking it to dementia.

How do we reduce belly fat?  Not through some cure-all diet pill, but through eating less and eating the right foods and aerobic exercise.  We all know not to eat too much sugar, but watch for hidden sugars even in “healthy” food.  Did you know that most wheat breads have as much if not more sugar than white bread?

The best source for making good food choices is the glycemic index.  It measures of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI.  Generally speaking most fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts have a low GI, while white bread, white rice, and sugary foods have a low glycemic index.  Go with more fiber (whole grains) and less sugar.

The good news is that abdominal fat is not any harder to lose than fat anywhere else on the body.  BUT  just doing situps won’t result in a loss of belly fat.  A low calorie diet of the right foods and moderate aerobic exercise most days of the week will.

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