Belly Fat Takes Years Off Your Life

As we prepare to stuff ourselves during Thanksgiving dinner, here is something to consider. Men and women with good weight management (“normal” weight) but extra pounds around the stomach may have a lower lifespan than individuals who are obese, a U.S. study suggests in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers focused on people’s waist-to-hip ratio, which measures whether they’re storing excess fat around the middle of their bodies. They found that men with a normal BMI (Body Mass Index) but central obesity, the clinical term for belly fat, had twice the mortality risk of men who were overweight or obese according to BMI. Women had a 32% increase in mortality.

This is eye opening as we consider the growing rate of childhood obesity too.

“Waist size matters, particularly in people who are a normal weight,” said senior study author Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “The lack of recognition of this leads people with abnormal distribution of fat to have a false sense of safety or reassurance that they don’t need to exercise or they can eat whatever they want because they are “skinny” when in reality, if a person has a normal BMI and an abnormal waist size the risk is worse than if they have a high BMI.”

What can be done to keep maintain weight management while warding off “belly fat”?

  • Celebrate autumn and get moving! Schedule one afternoon a week for the family to rake and then play in the falling leaves.  Studies show that you can burn about 200 calories an hour by raking leaves.  Not only will you get a great workout, your kids will have a blast too while combating childhood obesity.
  • Stay hydrated – even as it gets colder. If your belly feels full, you won’t be as hungry and won’t overeat.
  • Exercise before bed. Do you give into cravings while watching TV at night?  Try exercising instead. According to an April 2013 study in the journal, Obesity, our circadian system makes us hungriest a few hours before bedtime. But you may feel fuller after working out. A different study in the journal, Metabolism, found that perceived fullness was higher among participants after 12 weeks of aerobic training than before they were exercising. So a brisk walk after dinner each night may make you less likely to snack before bed.

“We need to talk about waist loss and not weight loss,” researchers stated. “When you lose weight through exercise and proper nutrition then the first fat to go is the fat at the waist line.”  This is valuable advice for children too as some battle childhood obesity.

“Because people with normal weight management and excess pounds around the middle may not have as much muscle mass as people without belly fat, these individuals may benefit from an exercise routine that includes strength and resistance training in addition to aerobic activity,” Lopez-Jimenez added.

Are you in need of fitness assistance?  Fitness for Health can help you create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun and maintaining weight management.  We offer customized exercise programs designed to fit your and your children’s exact needs while helping you reach your unique health goals. From first-time gym-goers to NFL and boxing professional athletes looking for athletic training, Fitness for Health has fitness programs to help people of all ages and abilities reach their fullest potential. And, we offer family workouts and Open Gym playtimes so families can become active together.