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Updated 06 November 2017

Here's how you might have fat that you don't know about

You may appear to be healthy from the outside, but your body could be telling a different story on the inside.

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Have you ever met someone who eats junk food and doesn’t exercise but never seems to put on any weight? You might call them lucky, but be aware that skinny doesn't necessarily equal healthy.

It is well known that obesity puts you at risk of health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, various cancers, and cholesterol. But not everyone knows  that you don’t need to be overweight to be susceptible to serious health conditions. 

In fact, statistics have shown that skinny people who have diabetes actually have a higher mortality rate than their overweight counterparts.

This is a dangerous situation because people who are not overweight often neglect their health. They think that because they appear healthy on the outside, everything's fine... There is however a thing called visceral fat.

What is visceral fat?

Visceral fat is the body fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity around a number of important internal organs, including the heart, liver, pancreas and intestines.

Storing higher than normal amounts of visceral fat is associated with increased risks of a number of health issues.

Research has shown that visceral fat produces more proinflamatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-60), and less adiponectin (a protein involved in regulating glucose levels and regulating the breakdown of fatty acids). This, in turn, induces insulin resistance.

How to reduce visceral fat

There are measures you can take to reduce visceral fat:

  • Cut out all trans fats (found in processed foods) from your diet.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Do resistance/strength training to build muscle. This is more effective at preventing age-related increases in belly fat than cardio exercises.
  • Do high intensity interval training.
  • Keep cortisol levels under control. (If your cortisol levels are high, it makes losing weight much more difficult.)

Image credit: iStock

 
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