A protruding belly not just hampers your confidence or overall look, but it also has several health implications! A Harvard study attests this fact, and goes on to say that women are in even more trouble because when they hit middle age. That’s because they tend to build belly fat, and guess what? That’s really not good for your heart health.
An increase in belly fat is an inevitable part of the ageing process. With time, it starts to accumulate in the abdominal area, and this fat is known as visceral fat. Unfortunately, visceral fat is caused by metabolic disturbances, putting you at high risk of cardiovascular (CDV) diseases.
According to Harvard research, apart from CDV, the problem of belly fat in women also increases the chances of breast cancer. Now that’s pretty serious to note.
Belly fat and cardiovascular problems have a huge link, says Dr Dora
“Obesity is considered to be a strong risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It also leads to hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, dyslipidemia, obstructive sleep apnea and cancer. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30, and overweight is defined by a BMI of more than 25. BMI for ideal body weight is between 20 to 25”, says Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, senior cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai.
He also shares that visceral fat gets accumulated in the veins, and travels right up to the liver and hampers its functioning. Because of this, your liver is unable to secrete the required amount of digestive juices. This further leads to an increase in bad cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance. All this has an adverse impact on your heart health.
Your mum might be at risk if she is obese and has visceral fat
According to a study published in European Heart Journal, researchers have compared the long-term cardiac risk in post menopausal women with normal BMI, but with or without abdominal obesity.
The results were mind boggling. The study showed that women with the highest level of belly fat had 91% greater risk of heart disease, than those with the lowest belly fat content.
However, those who carried extra weight in their legs had 38 per cent lower risk of heart disease than those who had little body fat in their legs. Additionally, analysis showed that women with the highest level of belly fat, and the lowest level of leg fat had more than three times greater risk of heart disease.
Thus, both your body weight and abdominal fat, should be taken into account to assess the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
“The recommended waist circumference for men is less than 40 inches, and for women, it is lower than 35 inches”, suggests Dr Dora.
Proper diet and exercise is the key to lower belly fat: Dr Dora
Effort should be made to control not only your body weight, but also abdominal obesity. The best way to do this is to modify your lifestyle, with a controlled diet and proper exercise.
“Obese adults are typically prescribed a diet that is designed to reduce calorie intake by around 500 kcal from the baseline, which can often be attained by limiting women to 1200-1500 kcal per day and men to 1500-1800 kcal per day”, says Dr Kumar.
The low-calorie diet should always be complemented with moderate levels of aerobic physical activity. All adults should engage in at least 150 minutes per week of accumulated moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity physical activity.
So this World Heart Day, pledge that you will do whatever it takes to support your heart because otherwise it might be too late!