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The Dangers of Hidden Fat — and What You Can Do to Lose It

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The Dangers of Hidden Fat — and What You Can Do to Lose It

Among the general population, visceral fat has been a wide-spread issue for many years. As obesity numbers continue to rise, people are beginning to realize the dangers associated with visceral fat.

Cooper Clinic Chief Operating Officer Christopher D. Abel, MD, discusses the risks of this “hidden fat” and the direct impact it has on your health.

What is Visceral Fat?
Visceral fat is the deep fat surrounding your organs. You may also hear it referred to as intra-abdominal or belly fat. Although this type of fat may not be visible to the eye, the risk and dangers of it are clearly evident.

This fat is not only found in people who are significantly overweight. Due to genetics, some people carry fat in the abdomen. Others who carry their weight in their hips, thighs and bottom have a decreased risk of experiencing medical problems. You may see people who are lean and assume they are in good shape, but a significant amount of visceral fat can also be found in people with modest fat percentage.  

Measuring Visceral Fat
Waist circumference and visceral fat go hand in hand. When measuring your waist circumference there are certain standards and targets your physician will identify. Cooper Clinic considers high risk men’s waist circumference to be 40 inches or greater and women 35 inches or greater. Your waist measurement should be taken around the top of your hips, also known as your iliac crest.

There are additional markers a physician can use to easily identify patients with visceral fat. If you go through comprehensive blood testing, your physician can review your blood work numbers and determine if you have visceral fat. Patients with visceral fat often have a low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and high triglycerides. They are also more prone to a fatty liver, so there are increased liver enzymes and ferritin, which is also a marker of visceral fat.

If you need a better idea of your current body composition, you can undergo full body fat testing. Cooper Clinic offers a method that can determine your percentage of total body fat and your ideal weight. A Body Fat Densitometry (DEXA scan) performs a bone density screening and measures your overall body fat. This type of test will give you a better idea about your visceral fat percentage and how it is distributed throughout your body.

Risks Associated with Visceral Fat
Most people don't realize that once inside your body, fat becomes an organ which produces hormones and chemicals that have an impact on their health. Patients who have a high amount of visceral fat may see increased risks for inflammation, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, low HDL, high triglycerides and increased blood pressure. Many of these risks are precursors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Physicians have also linked visceral fat to the development of breast cancer and colon cancer.

How Do You Lose Visceral Fat?
The steps to get rid of visceral fat are similar to how you work to lose other types of body fat. You should consider improving your:

  • Body weight – A healthy diet is a vital factor for weight loss. Limit your calories and portions, avoid processed carbohydrates and eat regularly throughout the day. Also, limit the amount of alcohol and sodas you drink.
  • Sleep schedule – You may underestimate the power sleep has on your health. Many people suffer from sleep deprivation, which can hinder weight loss efforts. Make sure you get to bed at the appropriate time each night.
  • Exercise plan – Mix up your workout routine. Weight training and high-intensity interval training are great programs to increase your metabolism and calorie expenditure. Remind yourself that it is easier to take in fewer calories than it is to burn them off.
  • Stress level – Manage your stress. People undervalue the impact it can have on overall health and efforts to lose weight. Learn different ways to relieve stress for a healthier you.

For more information about Cooper Clinic, click here or call 972.560.2667.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.