What is visceral fat? And how might it hinder your health?

Tanita scales allow you to assess so much more than just your weight. One of the key things that these scales do differently over regular scales is measuring your visceral adipose tissue (VAT). But what on earth is this?

VAT is the fat that accumulates in the abdominal cavity and around the internal organs, including the liver, heart, pancreas and kidneys. We’ve all heard the term “skinny fat” and this really gives us an insight into what is going on in the body, as this is the deep seated fat that wouldn’t necessarily show in the mirror.

VAT is a hormonally active component of body fat, so it really does have a mind of its own and in some ways is an organ in itself. So what do these hormones do?

As most people now know, insulin balances our blood sugar levels and helps bring these levels down after eating by moving glucose into the cells to give us energy. This glucose is used up by the cells but if levels in the blood are very high and the glycogen stores get “full” then it is stored as fat. The higher the glucose content of food (yes I’m looking at you white refined carbohydrates!) then the more likely this is to be stored, causing weight gain.

Furthermore, VAT is responsible for releasing leptin, which is the “satiety hormone”. Surges in leptin are experienced when eating a diet high in glucose, and if this happens frequently then you can become leptin resistant and a breakdown in the body’s communication mechanisms. This results in us feeling hungry and craving foods that give us a quick release of sugar, thus gaining weight.

This is just a quick overview of two of the hormones affected by VAT, but these can have a huge effect on the body and high levels of VAT have been linked with medical disorders such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers including breast, prostate and colorectal. It can also lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, arthritis and sleep disorders to name a few.

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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