Belly Fat Increases Your Risk of Death
The first thing that needs to be known is that there are two types of visceral fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous means under your skin; it’s not really part of your body, but rather just where all the blood vessels go through. Visceral fat is located around organs like your heart, liver, kidneys, spleen and intestines. (1)
Subcutaneous Versus Visceral Fat
In general, subcutaneous fat tends to be lighter in color than visceral fat. You might have a little bit of both at any given time. However, if you’re overweight or obese then you tend to accumulate more visceral fat than subcutaneous fat.
If you’re trying to lose weight, then one way to do so is to reduce your amount of visceral fat. If you want to gain weight, then increasing your amount of subcutaneous fat will likely result in greater success. (2)
How Much Visceral Fat Is Too Much?
It depends on many factors such as age, gender and genetics. It’s also related to health and other factors such as smoking. For example, men tend to have more visceral fat than women, especially after puberty. (3)
Having a lot of visceral fat is linked with diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. (4)
Is Your Belly Fat Dangerous?
It isn’t just dangerous, it’s potentially deadly. It’s tied to bigger chances of an earlier death and a shorter life expectancy overall. (5)
You might think that’s only true for those who are morbidly obese. That’s not the case. Even within the “normal” weight range, having a large amount of visceral fat is dangerous. (6)
Belly Fat in Men vs. Women
When it comes to men, visceral fat can affect their ability to father children. It’s also linked to lower testosterone levels and male infertility in general. (7)
Belly fat in women is also dangerous. It tends to be linked with infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome. (8)
Why is Belly Fat so Dangerous?
It’s a fat that seems to have more of a negative impact on your organs than regular subcutaneous fat does. It releases various types of molecules and hormones into your system that are harmful to your body. (9)
It’s also a type of visceral fat that can’t be reduced by exercise. It’s stubborn fat that sticks with you no matter what you do.
Visceral fat seems to be the most dangerous, but subcutaneous fat can be a problem too. Subcutaneous fat is the most common type of fat in our bodies. It’s the fat that most people think of when they think of “body fat.” (10)
What Else Is Linked to Belly Fat?
Having a large waistline is linked with various health conditions that can shorten your life and make it less pleasant. (11) Some of these include:
High blood pressure
Type 2 diabetes
Coronary heart disease
Fatty liver disease
Obstructive sleep apnea
These are all conditions that are serious enough that they require medical intervention. Many of these can be life-threatening if left untreated. (12)
How Can You Tell if You Have Too Much Belly Fat?
Sources & references used in this article:
General and abdominal adiposity and risk of death in Europe by T Pischon, H Boeing, K Hoffmann… – … England Journal of …, 2008 – Mass Medical Soc
Abdominal adipose tissue distribution, obesity, and risk of cardiovascular disease and death: 13 year follow up of participants in the study of men born in 1913. by B Larsson, K Svärdsudd, L Welin, L Wilhelmsen… – Br Med J (Clin Res …, 1984 – bmj.com
Abdominal obesity and the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality by C Zhang, KM Rexrode, RM Van Dam, TY Li, FB Hu – Circulation, 2008 – Citeseer
Body fat distribution and 5-year risk of death in older women by AR Folsom, SA Kaye, TA Sellers, CP Hong, JR Cerhan… – Jama, 1993 – jamanetwork.com
Sagittal abdominal diameter and risk of sudden death in asymptomatic middle-aged men: the Paris Prospective Study I by JP Empana, P Ducimetiere, MA Charles, X Jouven – Circulation, 2004 – Am Heart Assoc