Watch that beer belly for heart’s sake. It is worse than being overweight | fitness | Hindustan Times
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Watch that beer belly for heart’s sake. It is worse than being overweight

Do you have beer belly, but are otherwise not overweight? Beware, as experts say it is bad for the heart. Belly fat also reveals a sedentary lifestyle, low muscle mass, and eating too many refined carbohydrates.

fitness Updated: Apr 21, 2018 15:40 IST
Soma Das
Soma Das
Hindustan Times
See your doctor if your waist is bigger than your hips.
See your doctor if your waist is bigger than your hips.(Shutterstock)

Belly fat is really bad for you. Even more so than being overweight. A recent study has revealed that even in people who are not otherwise overweight, belly fat can be bad for the heart. “See your doctor if your waist is bigger than your hips,” said study author Dr Jose Medina-Inojosa from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Previous studies have shown that belly fat can hamper lung function and raise risk of cancer.

This study tested the hypothesis that people with normal weight and central obesity would have more heart problems than people with normal weight and normal fat distribution.

Body mass index (BMI), which is weight relative to height in kg/m2, is used to categorise adults as underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. However, BMI does not account for the amount and distribution of fat and muscle. Central obesity is a store of excess fat around the middle of the body and is a marker of abnormal fat distribution. “The belly is usually the first place we deposit fat, so people classified as overweight BMI but without a fat belly probably have more muscle which is good for health,” he continued. “Muscle is like a metabolic storehouse and helps decrease lipid and sugar levels in the blood.”

BMI does not account for the amount and distribution of fat and muscle. (Shutterstock)

What the study shows

The study found that participants with a normal BMI (18.5-24.9 kg/m2) and central obesity had an approximately two-fold higher long-term risk of MACE compared to participants without central obesity, regardless of their BMI. Medina-Inojosa said: “People with a normal weight but a fat belly have more chance of heart problems than people without a fat belly, even if they are obese according to BMI. This body shape indicates a sedentary lifestyle, low muscle mass, and eating too many refined carbohydrates.”

Participants with a normal BMI and central obesity also had a higher risk of MACE than overweight and obese participants with central obesity. Medina-Inojosa said that overweight and obese people with central obesity might also have more muscle mass which could be protective. The study was presented at EuroPrevent 2018, a European Society of Cardiology congress.

A keto diet reduces calories by filling you up with protein, vegetables, whole grains and replaces junk food with healthy snacks. (Shutterstock)

How to reduce belly fat

Foods that are high in sugar are commonly linked to type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. But many studies have shown a relationship between high sugar intake and increased abdominal fat as well. In a study conducted in 2009, a group of researchers observed a group who drank sugar-sweetened drinks with their meals over an eight-week period. Their diets didn’t otherwise change, but they put on an average of three pounds and their abdominal fat increased as well.

A popular diet to cut out sugar and lose belly fat is the keto diet. It reduces calories by filling you up with protein, vegetables, whole grains and replaces junk food with healthy snacks. Sprinkling cinnamon in your morning coffee or oatmeal can help as well as the spice helps stabilise blood sugar and slows the rate at which food exits the stomach, which helps you feel satiated for longer.

UK-based personal trainer Peter Mac also suggests some simple exercises, such as leg raises, push ups and sit-ups to reduce belly fat.

(Inputs from ANI)

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