Our Review Process
Our articles undergo extensive medical review by board-certified practitioners to confirm that all factual inferences with respect to medical conditions, symptoms, treatments, and protocols are legitimate, canonical, and adhere to current guidelines and the latest discoveries. Read more.
Our Editorial Team
Shifa Fatima, MSc.
Dr. Apoorva T, MHM.
Abdominal Obesity & Your Health
Excess body fat is linked to many health issues. In recent times, extra body weight has become the cause of many diseases like diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, depression, etc. Often people start to worry about the kilos they have gained but a major concern is how much abdominal fat their body has developed. Reducing the waistline is still a problem faced by many. More than half of overweight people are suffering from central obesity. People across all age groups are experiencing central obesity. People with extra abdominal fat have a metabolism that doesn’t work in favor of their bodies. Even though society has become acceptive of large waistlines but the health issues associated with abdominal obesity cannot be neglected.
Table of Contents
What is Abdominal obesity?
Also referred to as centripetal obesity or truncal obesity, abdominal obesity is a disorder caused in people when there is an excess accumulation of visceral fat around the stomach and abdominal region. Central obesity contributes to major health issues and has also become the cause of death for many. Visceral fat constitutes adipose deposit which includes certain tissues and perineal fat which are responsible for abdominal obesity. The intense amount of adipose visceral fat is called abdominal obesity or what people commonly refer to as ‘pot belly’ ‘beer belly’ etc. People with abdominal obesity are at high risk of developing cardiovascular problems, metabolic dysfunctions, diabetes, etc.
What causes Abdominal obesity?
There are many reasons for the formation of belly fat, but most of it boils down to your lifestyle choices. Here are a few causes of centripetal obesity.
- Overeating- Simply, intaking more calories than the amount your body burns is ought to make you fat. Consuming high-calorie food makes your body prone to develop truncal obesity. Instead, go for low-calorie foods.
- Age- With increasing age, you tend to lose muscle mass and your metabolism slows down. As a result, you eat the same amount of food yet your weight might still increase, the extra calories tend to accumulate around the abdomen.
- Lack of exercise- Lack of movement is a major cause of truncal obesity, if you do not burn the extra calorie you consume then it gets stored as fats. Often this results in a pot belly.
- Irregular sleeping patterns- Sleep deprivation directly causes overeating and weight gain, especially abdominal weight gain. Not getting enough sleep makes you lethargic and makes you eat high-calorie foods.
- Alcoholism and smoking- People who smoke and drink excessive alcohol develop more visceral fat which leads to abdominal obesity. This makes them more prone to chronic health conditions.
A few other factors like genes, stress eating, eating too much trans fats, having poor gut health, etc. are also responsible for developing truncal obesity.
Who is at Risk for Developing Abdominal Obesity?
People with poor lifestyles are most prone to develop abdominal obesity. Research shows that the rate of obesity is increasing tremendously since people are opting for lifestyle habits that are more convenient rather than healthy. People across all age groups are developing abdominal obesity. According to a survey, almost two-thirds of people aged 18 have developed abdominal obesity. Those who are at high risk of developing obesity are those who have trapped themselves in poor lifestyle choices like smoking, stress eating, avoiding physical movement and quality sleep, restoring to poor eating choices, etc. With increasing age, Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) increases leading to weight gain. As per reports, between the age group of 25-65 years, VAT increases up to 200% in men and 400% in women.
How is Abdominal Obesity diagnosed?
Abdominal obesity can be assessed by understanding how fats are stored in two different abdominal areas. Subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) is stored above the abdominal muscle and below the surface of the skin whereas visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is stored below the abdominal muscle surrounding the internal organs. VAT is the element that majorly impacts abdominal obesity. VAT is insulin resistant and it is responsible for increasing the release of inflammatory messengers and free fatty acids into the portal circulation. This release leads to many health issues which is the major reason for all the danger of abdominal obesity.
Abdominal obesity can be diagnosed with a cheap, safe method such as measuring WC (Waist circumference) or expensive clinical examination such as computed tomography scans. However, a drawback of WC is that it's not efficient in distinguishing between lean body mass and fat. On the other hand, CT scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) provide a detailed report. Another option to diagnose abdominal obesity is dual energy x-rays, this is a cheaper, more reliable option, and involves less radiation as compared to CT scans.
Treatment of Abdominal Obesity
- Medications and surgery- Abdominal obesity treatment also includes medications and surgery for severe cases. Doctors prescribe weight loss medicines only for those who are unable to lose it through exercise and diet or if the weight loss puts their health at stake. Medicine such as orlistat is prescribed however, it cannot replace the effectiveness of lifestyle changes. Surgeries are also performed to make changes in the stomach so that the person consumes less food. Gastric bypass is one of the common surgery people go for. Medications and surgeries have side-effect and one should have a detail-knowledge about them before resorting to them for treating an obese stomach.
- Exercising and dieting is your way out from stubborn belly fat- The most natural, safe, and effective way to lose those extra inches from your waist is to follow a nutritious diet and set an exercise routine. Moderate intensity 30 minutes of physical activity daily is suited to lose belly fat. You can increase the time up to 60 minutes daily as you build strength. Abdominal obesity treatment can also be gained by resorting to strength training (lifting weights). Added to that, good eating habits are also an advantage to losing belly fat. Restrict your portion size, and include complex carbs such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Add protein-rich food to your diet and eliminate trans fats, processed foods, dairy products, etc. You can also try intermittent fasting as it has proved effective in dealing with abdominal obesity.
Risks associated with Abdominal Obesity
Abdominal obesity is directly linked to many health disorders. Some of these health risks are mentioned below.
- Heart disease- Abdominal obesity increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disorders. Visceral fat that leads to abdominal obesity has become a major cause that leads to severe heart disease.
- Diabetes-. Central obesity causes insulin resistance that increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Abdominal fat makes the body secrete a group of hormones called adipokines which impairs glucose tolerance.
- Asthma- Due to increased weight, a person tends to breathe at an abnormal rate, as the muscles are tighter around the lungs which increases the risk of developing asthma. People with obesity breathe quickly and inhale less amount of air.
- Alzheimer-The risk of developing Alzheimer's gets higher if you have central obesity. With metabolic functions getting affected this risk gets higher. Studies show that mid-life obesity and dementia have a strong association.
- Other risks- Abdominal obesity leads to many other health risks such as lipodystrophies, dyslipidemia, cancer, strokes, mental issues, etc.
It can be quite difficult to fight abdominal obesity with so much easy-to-access information out there. Therefore, health and fitness experts must work hand-in-hand, so that people can get rid of obesity. Pay close attention to what information you choose to implement as there is a lot of wrong information which might worsen your condition. Choose the right lifestyle to fight against the disorder and keep yourself away from the health issues it brings along.
What is considered abdominal obesity?
The accumulation of excess visceral fat in the abdominal region is considered abdominal obesity. This condition leads to a larger waist size which people commonly call a pot belly. It may also be referred to as central obesity or truncal obesity.
What causes central obesity?
Various reasons such as overeating, lack of physical movement, irregular sleeping patterns, alcoholism and smoking, stress eating, genetics, age, stress eating, wrong food choices, etc. are the prime causes of central obesity.
Does abdominal fat cause pain?
While abdominal fat is not always the reason behind abdominal pain but at times it can be the main cause leading to pain in the abdominal region. Visceral fat causes inflammation and narrows the blood vessels which can make you experience pain.
What are the 5 foods that burn belly fat?
Belly fat can be burned by choosing the right kind of food. Top foods that you must add to your diet include beans, yogurt, red bell peppers, broccoli, and edamame. These keep you full for a longer duration and restrict overeating.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.