Return to Index
The Dangers of Hidden Abdominal Fat
What Is Visceral Fat?
What Causes Visceral Fat?
|Women||Greater than 88 centimeters (35 inches)|
|Men||Greater than 102 centimeter (40 inches)|
The Health Risks of Abdominal Fat
- Type 2 diabetes —Studies have shown that adults with large deposits of visceral fat develop lower sensitivity to insulin (insulin resistance). Since these people do not respond to the effects of insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels, they can develop type 2 diabetes.
- Coronary artery disease —Visceral fat may promote the release of cytokines, chemicals that regulate the immune response. Cytokines promote inflammation that affects the coronary arteries, which contributes to the development of atherosclerosis. Extra fat around the waist may also lead to high blood pressure, lower levels of HDL (the good cholesterol), and can increase the risk of stroke.
- Metabolic syndrome —This combination of abnormal blood sugar levels, elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure has been observed even in some normal-weight people (BMI less than 25 kg/m 2) with extra abdominal fat.
- Sleep apnea —Increased visceral fat has been associated with the occurrence of obstructive sleep apnea since deep abdominal fat can restrict the movement of the diaphragm and limit lung expansion.
How Do You Get Rid of Visceral Fat?
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Weight-Control Information Network http://win.niddk.nih.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob%5Fgdlns.pdf. Accessed July 12, 2012.
Determination of degree of abdominal obesity. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/e%5Ftxtbk/txgd/4112.htm. Accessed June 11, 2014.
Excess fat around the waist may increase death risk for women. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2008/niddk-07.htm. Accessed June 11, 2014.
Goodpasture B, Krishnaswami S, Harris T, et al. Obesity, regional body fat distribution, and the metabolic syndrome in older men and women. Arch Intern Med. 2005; 165:777-783.
Hamdy O, Porramatikul S, et al. Metabolic obesity: The paradox between visceral and subcutaneous fat. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2006;2(4):367-373.
Klein S. The case of visceral fat: argument for the defense. J Clin Invest. 2004; 113:1530-1532.
Obesity in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 6, 2014. Accessed June 11, 2014.
Ogretmenoglu O, Ahmet S, Omer Y, et al. Body fat composition: a predictive factor for obstructive Sleep apnea. Laryngoscope. 2005; 115:1493-1498.
Rendell M, Hulthen U, Tornquist C, et al. Relationship between abdominal fat compartments and glucose and lipid metabolism in early postmenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001; 86:744-749.
Ross R, Freeman J, Hudson R, et al. Abdominal obesity, muscle composition, and insulin resistance in premenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87: 5044-5051.
Sharma A. Mediastinal fat, insulin resistance, and hypertension. Hypertension. 2004; 44:117-118.
Sung J, DeRegis JR, Bacher AC, et al. Lower dietary polyunsaturated to saturated fat ratio is associated with visceral adiposity. Presented at: Annual Meeting of the American College of Cardiology; March 30, 2003.
Tanne D, Medalie J, Goldbourt U. Body fat distribution and long-term risk of stroke mortality. Stroke. 2005; 36:1021-1025.
Vgontzas A, Papanicolaou A, Bixler E, et al. Sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness and fatigue: relation to visceral obesity, insulin resistance, and hypercytokinemia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000; 85:1151-1158.
Visceral fat (Active fat). Diabetes UK website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/body/visceral-fat.html. Accessed June 11, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 06/2014
- Update Date: 00/61/2014