Abdominal obesity (also known as central obesity or visceral fat deposition) is a chronic disease characterized by increased visceral fat accumulation.
This occurs when excess calories are consumed and stored in the abdominal region instead of being used for energy or stored in subcutaneous fat.
People who suffer from abdominal obesity have an increased risk of developing several metabolic diseases.
Obesity is a serious health problem
Obesity is a serious health problem which increases the risk of various diseases and mortality.
The main causes of obesity are genetics, eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.
Because of its correlation to other diseases such as diabetes mellitus type 2, cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke and cancer, you need to make every effort to maintain your weight within the normal level.
Abdominal obesity is an epidemic disease
The state of obesity has been increasing globally since the 1980s.
It is estimated that about 15% – 25% of people who are not obese have central fat distribution (abdominal fat). A condition is known as normal weight central obesity.
These people are at higher risk for developing serious health conditions like heart attack, even though they may not be overweight or obese according to their BMI values.
How to identify abdominal obesity
You can identify abdominal obesity by measuring the circumference of your waist.
If you are male, your waist should be less than 40 inches; if you are female, it should be less than 35 inches. If the figures are higher than these reference numbers, it is considered abdominal obesity.
BMI is commonly used to determine whether the body weight is ideal for height. Although BMI can be used to assess obesity, it is not a good measure of central obesity. Instead, it gives an idea about your total weight compared to your height.
Why abdominal obesity is dangerous
It is also strongly associated with high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high cholesterol level and inflammation, which are all characteristics of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes. It’s marked by increased levels of blood glucose (sugar), fat in the blood and other problems such as high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels.
What are the conditions associated with abdominal obesity
- Heart disease. Abdominal obesity is associated with high blood pressure, higher low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. It may also increase the risk of heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest due to atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease.
- Type 2 diabetes. Abdominal obesity increases insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure due to complications related to their condition.
- Cancer. Research indicates that excess body fat—particularly in the abdomen—is linked with an increased risk of certain cancers such as breast, endometrial, colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.
- Abdominal obesity is linked to an increased risk of premature death. A study found that people with larger waist circumferences had an increased risk of death from any cause than their counterparts with smaller waists.
- Another study showed that individuals with increased waist circumference had a higher risk of cardiovascular mortality than those whose measurements are within the normal range.
Causes of abdominal obesity
The main cause of abdominal obesity is consuming excess calories than required for energy production. This leads to extra fat storage around the stomach area.
Other factors can contribute to abdominal obesity, such as genetics. Some people may be more likely to store fat in this area because they have a family history.
Inactivity also increases your risk of developing this type of obesity; if you don’t move much throughout the day, your body will store more fat on its outer layers instead of burning it off through activities like exercise or walking around throughout the day.
Other causes include certain medications, stress and lack of sleep.
Medications such as β-receptor antagonists, anti-psychotic drugs, corticosteroids, neurotropic drugs, etc., promote abdominal obesity.
Stress and lack of sleep may also contribute to abdominal obesity.
Prevention and treatments
Exercising regularly. People who exercise regularly have less belly fat than those who don’t exercise.
Exercise can also improve insulin sensitivity. Which helps improve insulin resistance and lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Eating healthy foods in moderation. Eating too much food high in calories and low in nutrients can contribute to weight gain, especially around the abdomen.
No one diet works best for everyone; when deciding which diet plan is right for you, consider how much time and effort each requires.
The Bottom Line
Abdominal obesity is a condition characterized by excess fat in the abdomen.
It can result from lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise or overeating food high in sugar or saturated fats.
Abdominal obesity has been linked with a higher risk for certain types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
A comprehensive lifestyle change containing a combination of diet and exercise is likely needed to control this type of obesity.