Visceral fat is the type of fat that accumulates deep within the abdominal cavity and surrounds vital organs such as the liver, pancreas, and intestines. It is also known as belly fat or intra-abdominal fat, and it poses a significant threat to our health. Unlike subcutaneous fat, which is found just beneath the skin, visceral fat is metabolically active, secreting harmful chemicals that can lead to chronic diseases.
According to a new study conducted by researchers at Oxford University, every extra inch added to waist circumference increases the risk of heart attack by 10%. This alarming finding emphasizes the dangers of visceral fat and the need to take action to prevent its accumulation.
The study, published in the European Heart Journal, analyzed data from 500,000 people in the United Kingdom, aged between 40 and 69 years. The participants had their waist circumference, weight, and height measured and were followed up for an average of 7 years. During this time, the researchers recorded 7,500 heart attacks and 6,000 cases of coronary artery disease.
The findings revealed that people with a waist circumference of 35 inches or more for women, and 40 inches or more for men, were at a significantly higher risk of heart attack than those with smaller waist circumferences. Specifically, for every extra inch added to the waist circumference, the risk of heart attack increased by 10%. This association was independent of other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The study also found that the link between waist circumference and heart attack risk was stronger in women than in men. Women with larger waist circumferences were at a 16% higher risk of heart attack than those with smaller waist circumferences. This is concerning because women tend to accumulate more visceral fat than men, which could explain why they are more susceptible to the harmful effects of this type of fat.
The dangers of visceral fat extend beyond heart disease. Research has linked it to a range of other health problems, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia, and some forms of cancer. Unlike subcutaneous fat, which can be burned off through exercise, visceral fat is more resistant to physical activity and diet. It can only be reduced through a combination of healthy eating, regular exercise, and lifestyle changes.
One reason why visceral fat is so harmful is that it produces adipokines, hormones that contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance. These factors can lead to the development of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Visceral fat has also been shown to increase levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and decrease levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which further raises the risk of heart disease.
The good news is that visceral fat is reversible. A study published in the journal Circulation found that weight loss of just 5-10% can lead to a significant reduction in visceral fat. Another study found that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, reduced visceral fat by 7%. Resistance training, such as weightlifting, can also be effective in reducing visceral fat.
In addition to exercise, dietary changes are also important in reducing visceral fat. A diet high in fiber, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and low in saturated fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, has been shown to reduce visceral fat. Alcohol consumption should also be limited, as it can increase the production of visceral fat.
In conclusion, the dangers of visceral fat cannot be overstated. The new study from Oxford University highlights the significant link between waist circumference and heart attack risk. For every extra inch added to waist circumference, the risk of heart attack increases by 10%.
There is great news, however. In a newly published study in the Obesity Journal participants were able to reduce their visceral fat by 33% in just eight weeks.
These results are shaking up the Medical Community in a great way.