Your beer belly may kill you

Lesotho Times - - Health -

GO­ING to your doc­tor may soon look more like go­ing to your tai­lor. In­stead of start­ing with a re­quest to step on a scale, he or she may mea­sure your waist.

That’s be­cause a new study con­cludes that ex­cess belly fat, even if you are skinny ev­ery­where else, may be even more deadly than be­ing obese or over­weight.

And that’s say­ing some­thing when you know that be­ing obese al­ready in­creases your like­li­hood of hav­ing a heart at­tack, a stroke, di­a­betes or even can­cer.

In other words, your beer belly may be killing you.

As of now, the guide­lines to man­age obe­sity tell your doc­tor to look at your body mass in­dex, the mea­sure of body fat us­ing a cal­cu­la­tion based on your height and weight. It is pos­si­ble to have a “healthy” BMI and a slim butt, arms and legs. But if your pants are hard to but­ton, and your low-rid­ers make a muf­fin top, you should still watch your weight.

‘I’m not fat’ “I hear from some of my pa­tients who have a nor­mal BMI. They ask me, ‘Why do I have to ex­er­cise if my BMI is nor­mal? I’m not fat. I should be able to eat what­ever I want,’” said co-au­thor Dr. Fran­cisco LopezJimenez. Lopez-jimenez works as a doc­tor in the divi­sion of car­di­ol­ogy at the Mayo Clinic in Min­nesota. What this lat­est study shows is that his pa­tients with paunches should be eat­ing their broc­coli and in­creas­ing their time on the tread­mill.

This study ap­pears in the lat­est edi­tion of An­nals of In­ter­nal Medicine. Af­ter look­ing at data from over 15,000 peo­ple, re­searchers es­ti­mate that men with pot bel­lies have twice the mor­tal­ity risk of peo­ple who are just over­weight or obese.

Women with a sim­i­lar fat dis­tri­bu­tion had 1.5 times the risk for death.

“Keep in mind this doesn’t give peo­ple li­cense to eat any­thing they want to even out their fat,” LopezJimenez said. “I’ve got­ten a few of those notes that say that is what some peo­ple plan to do. I hope they are jok­ing.”

Ear­lier stud­ies showed that peo­ple with a large waist-to-hip ra­tio face a greater risk of di­a­betes, stroke, coro­nary heart dis­ease and other car­diac prob­lems. This is the first study to quan­tify the risk of death. Fat that goes deep in­side the

body What makes belly fat so deadly? Part of it may be that un­like your love han­dles — which are pinch­able fat right be­neath your skin — the kind of fat that likes to hang out in your stom­ach area goes deep in­side your body and wraps around your vi­tal or­gans.

Your liver can act a bit greedy and it bor­rows this fat to turn it into choles­terol that can slip into your blood­stream and start col­lect­ing along your ar­ter­ies. Too much choles­terol, and the ar­ter­ies start to har­den — and that can lead you down the path to heart at­tack or stroke.

This deep layer of fat is to blame for your body be­com­ing in­sulin­re­sis­tant. That can turn into Type 2 di­a­betes and it can also cause in­flam­ma­tion that may be at the root of a num­ber of chronic dis­eases. This kind of fat can raise your glu- cose lev­els and de­crease your mus­cle mass. That last one may be par­tic­u­larly dam­ag­ing as mus­cle seems to be a good pro­tec­tor of your heart health.

To fix it: Diet, ex­er­cise and

calm If you want to do some­thing to flat­ten that tummy, you are in luck. Hav­ing a dan­ger­ous waist-to-hip ra­tio is not a per­ma­nent con­di­tion. Lopez-jimenez said re­searchers re­ally don’t have strong ev­i­dence yet on what ex­actly re­duces fat in this area, but the ad­vice he gives his pa­tients is solid.

A healthy diet, like the Mediter­ranean diet, is a good way to go. That means you avoid pro­cessed food, eat meat spar­ingly, and above all, eat more plants, whole grains and nuts. On this diet you can even have a daily glass of wine.

Diet alone doesn’t do it, though. If you want to burn off this kind of fat you need reg­u­lar car­dio. Walk­ing for 50 min­utes three times a week or 30 min­utes six days a week should work, ac­cord­ing to ear­lier stud­ies.

What may be even more use­ful is to add some kind of re­sis­tance or weight train­ing to your rou­tine, “any­thing that will help you im­prove your mus­cle mass, and not just for aes­thetic rea­sons,” said LopezJimenez. “We are start­ing to think mus­cle mass may have some pro­tec­tive ef­fects to pre­vent heart at­tacks and di­a­betes.”

Stress re­duc­tion may also be a big help. Ear­lier stud­ies showed peo­ple who are reg­u­larly stressed out tend to have a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of belly fat. You prob­a­bly can’t quit your job any time soon, so prac­tice deep breath­ing or try an ac­tive form of re­lax­ation such as yoga.

Com­bine th­ese three — diet, ex­er­cise and calm — and your beer belly doesn’t have to hurt you half as much. — CNN

men with pot bel­lies have twice the mor­tal­ity risk of peo­ple who are over­weight or obese.

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