Nature versus nurture is a common juxtaposition, but when we talk about our body, these two aspects—genes and lifestyle—go hand in hand, shaping how we look. We are all different, but it’s possible for our size to extend from just being an appearance thing to actually becoming a health concern. One prominent example of this is stomach fat. Recent research has uncovered an association between abdominal fat and the worsening risk factors of heart disease.
Previous studies have established that people with fat accumulation around the midsection are more susceptible to developing heart disease compared to people with a different fat distribution. In a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers reviewed CT scans of 1,106 men and women, assessing their belly fat accumulation, distribution, and its density. They distinguished between two types of fat: the fat just under the skin and the fat in the abdominal cavity. Participants were then followed up in six years, demonstrating on average a 22 percent increase in fat under the skin and a 45 percent increase in “hidden” fat.
From the beginning of the study to the follow-up, each additional pound of fat was linked to new incidence of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and metabolic syndrome. (You can easily reduce your risk of heart disease). The latter stands for a group of factors that cumulatively increase one’s risk of cardiovascular events. While both types of fat contributed to worsened heart health, fat inside the abdominal cavity was found to be particularly dangerous. The more abdominal fat participants accumulated over the study period, the more significant the increases in their metabolic factors were—their blood glucose and triglyceride levels climbed, while their good cholesterol count dropped.
The identified association remained even after BMI and waist circumference were factored in, which are two common measures of a healthy weight.
The researchers also highlighted fat density as an additional marker of heart disease risk associated with abdominal fat. In fact, lower fat density was linked to a higher risk.
This study is yet another reason for effective weight management. Having a healthy weight makes you feel good and protects you from a whole slew of adverse health conditions—it all starts with revisiting your lifestyle. Adjusting your diet to include more fruits and vegetables as well as ample protein and healthy fats, while at the same time eliminating processed and sugar-loaded products, will set you on the path to clean eating. (Proper circulation may be the key to unlocking youth and vitality). If you find yourself sitting all the time, it’s definitely a good time to get moving. Even the simplest exercise makes a difference and provides the foundation to build up your future workouts. After all, it is really within your power to make your body the healthiest it can be.