How fat around your waist may be dangerous

Fat that lies just below your skin in most of your body - the kind you can see and feel with your hands - is called subcutaneous fat. The right kind of fat has many important functions, such as protecting internal body organs, providing cell membrane structure and flexibility and providing energy while fasting or exercising.

However, when visceral fat builds up in the spaces between and around your viscera - internal organs like your stomach/belly area and intestines - this can be harmful to your health.

The danger of visceral fat is related to the release of proteins and hormones that can cause inflammation, which in turn can damage arteries and enter your liver, and affect how your body breaks down sugars and fats.

As a result, visceral fat is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and other chronic diseases.

If you are uncertain, it is really easy to find out if you have too much visceral fat. One of the best ways to measure your waist line is with a tape measure.

  • For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more is cause for concern.
  • For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches or more could spell trouble.

Another useful measure, is your hip:waist ratio:

  • For women, the ratio is 0.80 or less.
  • For men, the ratio is 1 or less.

You will see from the above calculations if you decide to measure your waist or waist:hip ratio, that you don’t have to be seriously overweight for your abdominal fat to be negatively impacting on your health.

Keeping a food diary may help you realise that you may be eating more of the ‘wrong’ foods than you thought or that you are snacking on unhealthy carbs.

You could also ask a trained nutritional therapist to carry out a dietary evaluation, as they will be able to work out from your diet history (even if your diet is better now, it may not have been as a child) how to improve what you are eating or what foods to avoid or if you are low in certain food groups, such as healthy fats. Lifestyle factors, such as, not getting enough sleep, may also be making you prone to weight gain. In addition, exercise combined with dietary changes is probably the fastest way in order to lose weight, but this could be as simple as walking more, rather than taking the bus everywhere.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Melody Mackeown

Melody Mackeown, is a nutritional therapist who works in Putney and Earlsfield, London.

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