Latest research has concluded that visceral fat (found on the waist) is not actually any worse for your health than any other type of fat.
This goes against previous research from the University of Texas that said that even a small pot is bad for your health, and the American Cancer Society gave a new warning about visceral fat last year.
Also research found that women who store fat on their thighs are not at a significantly increased health risk.
The new studies do however remind us of the The Framlington Heart Study which found that a fat neck is a good indication of poor health.
The New Research Into Fat and Heart Disease
The latest research was carried out by Prof. John Danesh, Head of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Cambridge University and published in The Lancet. The research concluded that people with more fat in the stomach are do not have a greater risk of heart disease or heart attack than people was a more general distribution of fat.
However, it is important to note, indeed to emphasize, that carry excess fat is unhealthy. This research does not in any way say “stomach fat is healthy”. Quite the opposite, it says that this type of fat is no more unhealthy than fat on other areas of the body – all fat is unhealthy.
“BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio, whether assessed singly or in combination, do not importantly improve cardiovascular disease risk prediction in people in developed countries when additional information is available for systolic blood pressure, history of diabetes, and lipids” The Lancet.
If you are concerned about your own weight, read our advice guide, how to lose belly fat with diet and exercise.
A Large Study Into Fat and Health
The study involved a large group, of 220,000 people over a 10 year period. It looked at 3 ways of measuring fat and compared with rates of heart disease, and it found that all 3 measures saw a similar increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The three ways of measuring fat were:
- Body Mass Index – based on the height and weight of a person
- Waist-to-Hip Ratio – based on the difference between waist and hip circumference
- Just a waist measurement – simply measuring the circumference of the waist
The British Heart Foundation, who funded this research, made the following statement regarding the new research;
“This study suggests that measuring your waist is no better than calculating your BMI but it’s not time to throw away the tape measure just yet.
“We tend to underestimate our body shape and size, so measuring our waist or checking our BMI are both quick and easy ways we can check our health at home.
“We should also remember there are other heart risk factors we need to think about too, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and smoking.
“Anyone over 40 who’s worried about their waist measurement or BMI should ask at their GP surgery for a heart health assessment, which will take into account all cardiovascular risk factors and provide practical advice on how you can reduce your risk.” Mike Knapton, British Heart Foundation.
Also, it is important to remember that being overweight and having excess body fat is not just a heart risk, but also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (which in turn further increases risk of heart disease), as well as cancer, high blood pressure and stroke.
Other research has shown that visceral fat is unhealthy and that it causes various problems included disruption to natural hormone signals and increased risk of heart disease. If you have excess visceral fat you really should improve your health through diet and exercise.
“Separate and combined associations of body-mass index and abdominal adiposity with cardiovascular disease: collaborative analysis of 58 prospective studies” The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 11 March 2011doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60105-0