The Truth About Belly Fat and Your Health
Take a good look in the mirror. Do you weigh more than you should? Do you have a few pounds to lose? Let's face it, most adults could stand to shed a few pounds. After all, about 70 percent of all adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It's no secret that being overweight or obese is bad for your health. And it's a primary factor in heart disease and diabetes, both among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States. But where you carry excess fat can make all the difference, according to a recent study conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Researchers looked at health data for 1,106 people. They measured body fat by using imaging equipment in a clinical setting. They found that overweight and obese people were more likely to have high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, and other risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
But those risk factors were even greater depending the way people stored excess fat. People who stored more excess fat as adipose tissue ("love handles") were less likely to develop weight-related health problems, than people who stored excess fat as visceral fat (fat that surrounds internal organs). The findings suggest that assessing overall health and weight using Body Mass Index calculations don't tell the whole story.
If you need to lose a few pounds, you probably already know it. But don't focus on reaching your ideal weight. Losing just one to two pounds a week is realistic with regular exercise and a healthy diet. And if you're already at a healthy weight, maintain it. Either way is going to help keep your heart healthy and provide other protective benefits.
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