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Belly Fat Is Dangerous, Here’s Why

Belly Fat Measure

While health risks associated with obesity are well documented, a new study has found that even for thin people, some extra weight around the midsection can be a problem.

The study’s findings, which were published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, show that thin folks carrying excess weight, or belly fat, around their midsection–known as central obesity–to be at greater risk than those with body mass index (BMI) based obesity. And they’re also at a higher risk than those who are overweight based on BMI.

CBS News points out that prior research has linked central obesity to not only an increased risk of cardiovascular death, but overall death as well.

The study, which was conducted over the course of 14-years and involved more than 15,000 people, was led by Mayo Clinic cardiologist Francisco Lopez-Jimenez.

Dr. Leslie Cho, the Cleveland Clinic’s head of preventive cardiology, was not involved with study, however, she weighed in on its findings as she stated that “weight is not as important” as one’s “level of fitness” and fat location.

Often times, we think if we’re a normal weight, then we’re OK (…) But weight is not as important as your level of fitness and where you hold your fat.

Echoing Dr. Cho’s sentiments, study lead Lopez-Jimenez put it simply in stating that “not all fat is equal.”
While belly fat “might look the same under the microscope” when compared to arm or leg fat, Lopez-Jimenez claims that it’s “much more active” in comparison.

The fat around the belly might look the same under the microscope as fat from the arms or legs, but it’s much more active

While it’s presently unclear why, fat deposited on the legs and buttocks appears to offer an amount of protection for the individual’s heart, according to Lopez-Jimenez.With the study’s findings in mind, Lopez-Jimenez implores those interested in shedding weight to be conscious of their waist-hip measurements and to work on building muscles instead of focusing solely on weight loss.

Aesthetics aside and health in mind, losing weight without building muscle might not improve one’s health all “that much,” according to Lopez-Jimenez.

When people lose weight, some of their weight they lose will be muscle mass, if they don’t exercise (…) If you just lose weight but don’t build muscle, you may not be improving your health that much.

A study conducted by the Obesity Research & Clinical Practice that was published earlier this year found weight loss to be more difficult today than it was a couple of decades back.

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