Why is it that some of us tend to gain weight around our tummy while others keep it off? Unfortunately there is no single answer. Eating too much and not moving enough are the usual culprits, but there are other factors also at play, such as hormones, genes and even stress.
Testosterone predisposes men to accumulate fat around their abdomen, while the female hormone oestrogen causes women to store fat over time around their hips, bottom and thighs.
When you’re exposed to chronic stress, your body is literally bathed in a flood of the stress hormone called cortisol. Excess amounts of cortisol cause fat to be stored centrally around the organs. A study found that even women of a healthy weight are more prone to belly fat if they are highly stressed.
The main symptoms of insulin resistance are extra weight around the midriff and difficulty losing weight. When insulin levels are high, your body finds fat easier to store and harder to burn. Left unchecked, insulin resistance can worsen and may eventually progress into type 2 diabetes.
Everyone is genetically programmed to store fat in differing proportions around the body. Generally, pear-shaped people store more subcutaneous fat in their lower body, whereas the apple-shaped person stores largely visceral abdominal fat.
Women’s lower oestrogen levels during and after menopause can lead them to store weight around their belly as men do, gaining visceral fat and also increasing their risk of heart disease.
It’s not only high in kilojoules — when you drink, your liver is too busy burning off the alcohol to burn off the fat. Alcohol can also affect the hormones that regulate satiety, causing you to overeat. The result of all this: waist gain.
While you may not be gaining weight around your tummy, 90 per cent of people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) report uncomfortable bloating, often caused by diet.