Abdominal Body Fat is Serious Health Risk Factor
Previously, most obesity experts considered that total body fat was the main predictor of weight-related disease: the higher the body fat percentage, the higher the health risk. Now, it is thought that location of fatty tissue is equally if not more important than total body fat.
Abdominal Obesity Predicts Cardiovascular and Other Disease
Fat stored around the abdomen and waist (also called, central adiposity, intra-abdominal fat, or central obesity) is believed to be a better predictor of weight-related diseases like atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is the clinical result of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), and may lead to myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke. Intra-abdominal fat (IAF) is also associated with increased risk of hormonal cancers (e.g. breast cancer), ovulatory dysfunction and obstructive sleep apnea. Exactly why abdominal fat increases the risk of serious diseases like ASCVD, diabetes and insulin resistance, is not yet clear, but the association is well established.
Apple Shape is Greater Health Risk Than Pear Shape
People who are “apple-shaped” tend to store excess body fat around their stomach and abdomen, while those with a “pear shape” tend to gain weight on their buttocks and thighs. Thus apple-shaped individuals have a greater risk of weight-related disorders and need to pay more attention to normalizing their weight. Where we store fat is largely the result of gender (men tend to be apple-shaped, women pear-shaped), or age (after menopause women become more apple-shaped). However, overconsumption of alcohol appears to increase fat accumulation around the stomach in both men and women.
Waist Circumference is Guide to Abdominal Obesity
Waist circumference is a rough guide to determining whether you are a higher-risk apple-shape, or a lower-risk pear-shape. Measure your waist just above your belly button. If you are male, a healthy waist measurement is less than 40 inches provided your body mass index is less than 25. If you are female, a healthy waist measurement is less than 35 inches provided your body mass index is less than 25. A larger waist leads to an increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Abdominal Obesity: Summary
Although total amount of body fat – as estimated by the body mass index – remains an important indicator of weight-related illness, location of body fat is equally if not more significant. To be specific, excessive body fat stored around the stomach and abdomen is a key risk factor for weight-related disease.