Why is the visceral fat of a pot-belly a risk to your health?
The fat located around the abdomen is also under the abdominal muscles – surrounding your visceral organs. This visceral fat cannot be measured with skinfold callipers.
Researchers are looking at the waist-to-hip girth ratio to determine why this visceral fat increases your risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. One reason may be that the fat stored in this area has a direct circulatory route to the liver – where free fatty acids can be turned into extra cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease.
To calculate your waist-to-hip ratio:
- Measure the waist at the level of the navel (inches)
- Measure the hips at the greatest circumference of the buttocks (inches)
- Now divide the waist by the hip measurement (using the nearest quarter inch measurement)
Your result should be:
Below 0.9 for men or below 0.8 for women – to be within what is considered a safe limit.
Exercise is the best way to reduce the amount of metabolically active visceral fat.
But it is also worth remembering that some of the following factors tend to increase the waist-hip-ratio:
- Insulin resistance
- Stress hormones (cortisol & epinephrine)
- Cigarette smoking
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