Why You Should Care About Your Waistline

At the Wide-Body, we aren’t critical the physical shape with which people were born. Everyday athletes come in all shapes and sizes, and the Wide Body openly encourages everyone to embrace their physique. I will never have the body of a men’s fashion model, and I’m okay with that because I like the fact that my body is built for physical power. The features of sleekness and power in a body is rare, and given the chance to choose, I will choose power every time.

But there does come a time when we must address excess fat that taken up residence on the body. You should embrace your curves, but don’t embrace a pot belly that is damaging your health. How bad is that extra weight around your gut? This is what the Harvard Medical School about abdominal obesity;

Excess body fat has serious consequences for health. It’ associated with high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides and low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. It impairs the body’s responsiveness to insulin, raising blood sugar and insulin levels. Excess body fat contributes to major causes of death and disability, including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, fatty liver, and depression.

Wow. That is a “Who’s who” of the leading killers in North America.

Scientists are studying this closer to better understand why fat around the abdomen is so destructive. The first thing we should do is separate fat into two categories; 1. Subcutaneous fat and 2. Visceral fat.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat that lies just beneath the skin. Reach down your, give yourself a little pinch on your “love handles” and you have found subcutaneous fat. This sort of fat pretty much looks the same throughout the body. And while this fat is not always healthy, it is not necessarily the culprit of poor health issues.

Visceral fat is the fat that is within the abdomen, surrounding the internal organs, and is a danger to the body because of lipotoxicity. As the Harvard Medical School points out;

Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat cells release their metabolic products directly into the portal circulation, which carries blood straight to the liver. As a result, visceral fat cells that are enlarged and stuffed with excess triglycerides pour free fatty acids into the liver. Free fatty acids also accumulate in the pancreas, heart, and other organs. In all these locations, the free fatty acids accumulate in cells that are not engineered to store fat. The result is organ dysfunction, which produces impaired regulation of insulin, blood sugar, and cholesterol, as well as abnormal heart function.

How do you know if you may have a problem? The best way to determine if you have an issue with body fat is to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) test completed by your doctor. While the test is not perfect, it is comprehensive enough for you to begin taking actions to bring your health in line with where it should be.

BMI’s are expensive, and a simpler test is using a waist circumference test. These tests are more prone to failures because it only takes into consideration one metric, the waist, Nonetheless, it is a simple test and can give you the guidance as to whether you need to take steps to change your health.

Table: Waist Circumference and Your Risk

Waist Circomference test

If you fall within an intermediate of high risk category, schedule some time to have a frank with your family doctor about your health. The best and only way to lose visceral fat is to increase the burning of calories through exercise and to decrease the caloric intake of food.

For more information on this topic, please read this article from Harvard Medical School.