Belly Fat and Heart Disease:
New information from Harvard Medical School
Research shows that fat around your belly is an enormous health threat. One more remarkable reason to start loving ourselves and losing weight!
The March 6, 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association shows a study which involved about 500,000 people, ages 40 to 69, in the United Kingdom. The researchers took body measurements of the participants and then kept track of who had heart attacks over the next seven years. During that period, the women who carried more weight in their bellies had a 10% to 20% greater risk of heart attack than those who didn’t. A larger waist-to-hip ratio, in particular, appeared to be a bigger heart attack risk factor for women than for men. The analysis showed 18% stronger risk of a heart attack in women — versus 6% stronger in men.
“But the message that you should take from this study should be less about the gender differences and more about the overall risks presented by central adiposity,” says Dr Barbara Kahn, the George Richards Minot Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Widening Waistline = Growing Risks
“Regardless of whether women are more vulnerable than men to heart problems related to abdominal weight gain, it’s pretty clear that central adiposity presents important health risks,” Dr Kahn says. “Researchers have shown that weight gain around the middle represents an increase in the amount of visceral fat, the type of fat that encases your internal organs. There are many studies showing that an unfavourable waist-to-hip ratio is highly associated with diabetes and cardiovascular risk,” says Dr Kahn.
So, if our waist is getting bigger, let’s take some action to trim that waistline!
Strategies to whittle your waist and lower your risk
Keep weight gain in check. “The focus should be on limiting weight gain overall,” says Dr Kahn. Making changes to your daily routine can help prevent weight gain. “I don’t talk with patients as much about going on a diet as I do about creating a long-term lifestyle program that includes physical activity and sustainable dietary changes,” says Dr Kahn. “The weight that comes off slowly tends to stay off. By contrast, very rapid weight loss can trigger your body to slow its metabolism, setting the stage for the weight to be regained quickly.”
Get moving. It’s probably no surprise that increasing the amount of exercise you do should be a goal if you’re looking to keep your waistline in check. “I’m a big proponent of regular exercise,” says Dr Kahn.
Here are some ideas if time is your problem:
1. Fit in where you can. A half-hour walk outside the office at noon or before you drive home for the day.
2. Just stay physically active to improve your metabolism.
3. Get up to walk around periodically during work.
I, Cristina, may also add:
4. Don’t send electronic messages, stand up and deliver them personally instead.
5. Always take the stairs, not the elevator.
6. Climb escalators instead of remaining still.
7. Keep changing exercise and life routines.
8. Do a mini workout every time you go to the bathroom: walk around, climb the stairs, stretch, do some push-ups.
9. Stand up and pace around while you are on the phone and on a conference.
“Regular physical activity may not always help you lose weight, but again, it can help you maintain a healthy weight, and also improve blood sugar for people with diabetes. Having a higher proportion of muscle mass can help you burn more calories, so adding strength training at least twice a week, focusing on all the major muscle groups, may also help you maintain your weight.”
“Heading off this dangerous type of fat, in turn, reduces the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In the meantime, focus on lifestyle changes and exercise, and keep an eye on your belt buckle to gauge your progress.”
Information summarized from the article:
By Kelly Bilodeau; Belly fat linked with higher heart disease risk; Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School; July 26, 2018.
I am Love … I am Success!