The scale can lie: abdominal fat is not

The scale can lie: abdominal fat is not

If your abdomen exceeds 88 centimeters in circumference you have to run for cover. Weight is important, but it is the fat that must be kept under control

Pick up a tape measure. Place it around the abdomen, in its most prominent part. If you are above 88 centimeters (for males, of course, the permitted quota is higher, ed), plan a plan that is made of physical activity, perhaps to strengthen the abdominals, and a diet that reduces calories.

All this, even if the scale seems to signal you that the weight is under control. In fact, it does not count only how much adipose tissue is in the body, but also how it is distributed. And the fat that is concentrated in the belly is not only unsightly, but can even become a sort of "organ" in its own right, with a metabolic activity that the fat cells located in other sites, such as the thighs, do not have .

Any examples? The fat cells that are inside the belly and around the viscera can facilitate the inflammatory processes, make the LDL cholesterol rise (the bad one that tends to deposit in the vessels), even favor the increase of the sensation of appetite acting on a particular regulatory substance, leptin.

In short, for women the fat that is deposited in the abdomen can be a threat to health, to be fought with great care. So much so that women of normal weight but with an accumulation of lipid tissue in the abdomen can have – after menopause – a higher risk of mortality compared to peers who, even if at the same weight, are found It is in fact the fat deposited on the belly to increase mortality, more than weight by itself.

Here are the risk figures

The alarm, albeit with the limitation of focusing attention on menopausal women, is research published in Nutrition, Obesity and Exercise coordinated by Sun Yangbo. The study examined data on a population of over 156,000 menopausal women, collected within the Women's Health Initiative Study.

The parameter that must set in alarm are the 88 centimeters of abdominal circumference. Comparing the data of those who reached or exceeded this threshold (to know it, as mentioned, a tape measure is enough), with those relating to women of normal weight, without central obesity (with equal demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status, factors related to lifestyle and hormonal status), in those who had the "belly" the risk for all causes of mortality was increased by 31%; while among overweight women but without central obesity, the risk was only increased by 16%.

Even among normal-weight women, those with waist points greater than 88 cm had a risk of cardiovascular mortality increased by 25% and mortality from tumors of 20 compared to those with normal waist circumference.

A parameter to keep in mind

The study – according to the opinion of Patrizia Burra, professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Padua and vice president of the Italian Society of Gastroenterology and Digestive Endoscopy (SIGE) – has the limit of considering only women who had passed the threshold of menopause and therefore the results cannot be automatically translated into those who are younger.

And above all the only parameter considered was the measurement of the waistline, while perhaps more specific targeted diagnostic checks would have been useful. "However – explains the expert – it has allowed us to highlight how women of normal body weight, who present however central obesity, are at greater risk of mortality than women of normal weight without central obesity and that this risk is similar to that of women obese.

This means that basing the risk assessment resulting from obesity, only on the basis of the calculation of the body mass index (BMI) does not allow to identify the increased risk of mortality typical of normal-weight women but with distribution of central type fat " . In short, let us arm ourselves by meter. And if needed, we ask for advice to find solutions.

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