Having a normal BMI (Body Mass Index) of 25 or under does not guarantee that we are healthy. People with a normal BMI who carry their weight around the middle are at the highest risk of death from any cause compared to those who are overweight or obese but carry their weight elsewhere.(1)
Well that just seems unfair.
A new study, which was just published in April of this year, included more than 42,000 people over 10 years. So this was a very large-scale study. And this begs the question: Why? What is so damaging about a little extra weight in the mid-section vs. the thighs or hips?
Since this was an observational study, meaning it looked at associations and not cause-and-effect, there is not a definitive answer. However, other studies have linked belly fat to heart failure, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular problems. It also has been associated with osteoporosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and other health problems. It is thought that this is partially due to having fat surrounding the vital organs in the mid-section.
There are many advertisements claiming to get rid of belly fat, and some products or diets may very well be helpful. Research has shown that trans fats (think partially hydrogenated fats) are more likely to be stored as belly fat than other types. (2) These are typically found in margarine, pastries, cookies and crackers, fried, and convenience foods.
And sadly, all the sit-ups in the world cannot eliminate fat without a healthy diet and full exercise regimen. So start with clean eating and movement, and staying away from trans fats as much as possible.
(1) Annals of Internal Medicine, doi: 10.7326/L17-0022, published 25 April, 2017
(2) Wake Forest University Study: Kylie Kavanagh, D.V.M., presented the findings at the 66th annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in Washington, D.C