We are all well aware that obesity can lead to many serious conditions like heart diseases and diabetes. However, being slim does not mean you are safe from illnesses commonly associated with obesity either. Whether you are overweight or skinny, you need to be mindful about your visceral fat level.
What Is Visceral Fat?
There are 2 types of fats in our body – subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is “visible” fat that we can feel and is found just beneath our skin. Visceral fat on the other hand, is stored deep inside our body and wrapped around the organs in the abdomen like the liver and intestines. It is also known as “hidden” fat.
Visceral fat builds up when we consume high-calorie diets and spend little time performing physical activities that burn away the calories. Alcohol consumption can also result in build-up of visceral fats. In addition, accumulation of visceral fats in the body can be encouraged by stress. When we feel stress, our body releases cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that increases the storage of visceral fat in our body.
It is possible for a person to have normal BMI and yet have a high level of visceral fat.
Health Risks Associated With Visceral Fat
Carrying a high amount of visceral fat can increase the risk of developing multiple types of serious health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and breast and colorectal cancers. One in three people in Singapore will develop diabetes in their lifetime, and Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in Singapore. Many of the risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes are conditions associated with obesity and high visceral fat levels.
Men And Asians Are More Prone To Accumulating Visceral Fats
Studies show that men are more prone to gaining fats around their abdominal area, whereas women tend to gain fats around their hips and thighs. However, having given birth or having entered menopause are factors that will make a woman more prone to accumulating abdominal fat than other women.
Asians are genetically more prone to accumulating visceral fat, compared to Caucasians. This is particularly so for people with South Asian ancestry.
Estimating Your Visceral Fat Level
Since visceral fat is a hidden fat, how do we know how much visceral fat we are carrying? It is not possible to know specifically how much visceral fats we are carrying and where it is being stored without the use of imaging tests like CT scans. However, such scans are seldom required and usually we can just make an estimation about whether we have too much of such fats.
An easy way of estimating our visceral fat level is by measuring our waist. This is because the waist measurement gives a good indication of abdominal obesity. Asian women who carry a waist measurement of around 80 cm or more are at higher risk of serious health issues, while for men it is 90cm or more.
How To Reduce Visceral Fat?
Exercise And A Healthy Diet Are Key
The best way to reduce visceral fat is by keep a good diet and engaging in regular exercise. Aerobic exercise is in particular effective in burning away excess fats and helping us maintain a healthy weight. A balanced diet that does not have excess calories, is low in unsaturated fats, and includes limited or no alcohol consumption is also a must if we wish to shed the pounds.
Other lifestyle changes that can help in the reduction of visceral fats is to reduce stress, ensuring you get a good night’s sleep regularly, and to quit smoking.
Here is a quick tip for a great way for getting aerobic exercise, destress, get plenty of fresh, and spend quality time with family all at once – why not have weekly outings to explore our many parks in Singapore? Checkout this list of most beautiful parks in Singapore from Timeout.
Liposuction Cannot Help Reduce Visceral Fat
While liposuction may offer a quick solution for reducing the waist line, it is only subcutaneous fat that is removed. The visceral fat that poses health risk remains. Liposuction also carries the risk of infections due to the surgery. It should not be considered as an option for health improvement.
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This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.