Category: Abdominal Fat
Researchers Work to Discover Causes, Solutions for Abdominal Fat
Known variously as the beer belly, the spare tire, the middle-age spread, the gut, the paunch, the pooch, the potbelly, the breadbasket, or love handles, those extra pounds that tend to collect around the midsection can be frustratingly resistant to diet and exercise. No matter what you call them, these pounds can add up to a serious health risk, according to the latest studies.
Although all types of obesity pose a health risk, research has shown that fat concentrated in the abdominal area can be particularly dangerous. Apple-shaped individuals with a disproportionate amount of belly fat are more likely to fall prey to health risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, and some types of cancer.
To further complicate the problem, this type of fat is often unusually resistant to even the most dedicated efforts to minimize it. In both the research literature and the personal accounts of dieters, tales of stubborn belly fat abound.
Fortunately, researchers around the world are working diligently to solve the belly fat dilemma. This week, we'll take a look at the results of three recent studies that have attempted to shed some light on these hard-to-shed pounds.
Despite Challenges, Consistent Exercise Can Chip Away at Belly Fat
Many dieters with excess weight around the middle have complained about the difficulty of spot-reducing this area. Some fitness gurus have even gone as far as to suggest that spot-reducing isn't effective against stubborn belly fat. However, according to the results of a recent study, this assertion may not be entirely accurate.
Researchers at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center conducted a five-year-long study designed to assess the best ways to help patients lose abdominal fat. They found that traditional dieting techniques, such as reducing calories, were often not enough to reduce the proverbial "spare tire."
Instead, the scientists found that an exercise program paired with a reduced-calorie diet was the most effective way to shrink the size of abdominal fat cells. In the study, the group of subjects who combined both diet and exercise were able to reduce the size of their abdominal fat stores by an average of 18%. In contrast, the group that relied only on reduced-calorie dieting did not achieve any statistically significant reduction in belly fat.
While the researchers underscored the importance of additional research to confirm these preliminary findings, they indicated that this conclusion may represent a breakthrough in the recommendations doctors make to help their patients lose dangerous abdominal fat.
Alcohol Consumption Linked to Abdominal Fat, Study Shows
The slang term "beer belly" has long been used to describe especially protuberant abdominal fat stores. But according to the results of a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo, not all types of alcohol consumption contribute equally to the concentration of belly fat. Instead, the research found that certain alcohol consumption patterns are much more likely to result in fat around the abdomen.
The study participants who reported infrequent but intense bouts of drinking had the largest concentration of belly fat. Conversely, the subjects who drank consistently, but only in small amounts, displayed the least amount of abdominal fat.
The researchers pointed out that these findings underscore the importance of moderation in alcohol consumption, which is the approach that is already recommended by most physicians and health experts.
Genes May Play a Role in the Distribution of Abdominal Fat
Although most recent studies that have looked at the problem of belly fat have emphasized the importance of lifestyle choices in the management of this health risk, a study conducted by researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston looked into the role that genetics can play in the problem.
According to the researchers, both obesity in general and certain patterns of fat distribution on the body appear to be linked to inherited genes. Using tissue samples from both humans and mice, the researchers were able to make highly accurate predictions about BMI and fat distribution patterns by focusing on a sequence of three specific genes.
The scientists say that lifestyle choices such as eating patterns and fitness level also play a role in the distribution of body fat. However, when excess fat is accumulated, the genes seem to play a very significant role in determining how -- and where -- it will be stored on the body.
The researchers say that this knowledge may be able to used as a treatment for both obesity in general and abdominal fat in the distant future.
If you're concerned about abdominal fat, talk to your physician or a licensed nutritionist to devise a diet and fitness strategy that is suitable for your needs and limitations. And don't forget to check back each week for more of the diet and weight loss news you need to succeed.
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