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Couch potatoes accumulate fat at surprising rate

Although the damage can be undone by exercise, the deep-tissue or visceral fat is slower to come off than it is to go on, say researchers.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 26, 2003 13:43 IST

Couch potatoes build up potentially dangerous deposits of deep-tissue fat around vital abdominal organs at a surprisingly quick rate, US researchers said.

And although the damage can be undone by exercise, the deep-tissue or visceral fat is slower to come off than it is to go on, even with the help of regular vigorous workouts.

The findings, which were presented here on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, are significant because increased levels of visceral fat have been associated with insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and other metabolic syndromes.

The results shows that the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle in overweight people "are worse and more rapid than we previously thought," said Cris Slentz, one of the authors of the study.

"We probably should not have been surprised since this simply mirrors the increasingly rapid rise in obesity prevalence seen in the US, where presently two out of three adults are overweight or obese," he added.

The findings come from a study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina who assessed the impact of exercise on 170 volunteers.

The volunteers were divided into four groups, three of which were assigned to exercise regimes while the fourth group was asked not to exercise.

After eight months, the volunteers in the sedentary group saw an 8.6 per cent increase in the fat around their organs in their abdomens, while those who were exercised saw an 8.

First Published: May 29, 2003 19:26 IST