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Belly fat could start the end of your life

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th May 2013 06:49 PM

Shedding off this excess abdominal fat is going to be my highest priority from now on,” says 34-year-old Wilson Nambafu, a middle class Mbale urbanite. His belly bulge has got his folks and friends talking.

Belly fat could start the end of your life

Shedding off this excess abdominal fat is going to be my highest priority from now on,” says 34-year-old Wilson Nambafu, a middle class Mbale urbanite. His belly bulge has got his folks and friends talking.

By Richard Wetaya

Shedding off this excess abdominal fat is going to be my highest priority from now on,” says 34-year-old Wilson Nambafu, a middle class Mbale urbanite. His belly bulge has got his folks and friends talking. 
 
“They all say I have ‘fallen in things’ (meaning life is good), yet this is far from the truth. My belly fat worries me because I could develop health problems in the future,” Nambafu says.
 
Physician Fred Wamudenyi of Bumboi Health Centre in Mbale, says, whilst some amount of abdominal fat may be normal, excess belly fat is unhealthy.
 
Health risks
“Carrying extra fat around one’s midsection is not only unflattering in terms of appearance, but it also poses a huge health risk. Visceral abdominal fat, which gives most men apple-shaped beer belly appearances, is particularly dangerous because it releases inflammatory molecules into one’s body on a consistent basis,” he says.
 
These inflammatory molecules, Wamudenyi points out, adversely affect the proper functioning of the heart and eventually infiltrate the liver. 
 
Wamudenyi says that a big waistline greatly increases the risk of developing heart disease, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis (a medical condition in which bones become fragile from loss of tissue), diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, sleep disorders, various forms of cancer and other      degenerative diseases.”
 
“Men and women with a circumference of more than 40 inches around the waist run a higher risk of contracting the above conditions. The appropriate waist line should be 33 to 35 inches,” Wamudenyi notes. He adds that skin fold thickness around the midsection for teenage boys should be less than 3/5 inches and less than 1 inch for teenage girls.
 
Genetics at play
Carrying extra weight around the mid-section, however, does not necessarily point to one’s overeating or drinking, says Physician Andrew Magona of Nyondo Health Centre, Mbale. 
 
“Whilst there is a grain of truth and a link to the fact that excessive drinking and bad dietary habits can cause excess abdominal fat, excess weight around the midsection, for some, may just be genetic,” Magona says.
 
International scientists have for long made deductions to the effect that some people’s family genetics influence their body weight.
 
Magona says a fat storage enzyme called lipoprotein lipase determines where the fat that people consume goes. The concentration of fat in most people is around the upper and lower midsection.
 
“For men, this enzyme concentrates more in the abdomen, whilst in women, it’s in the thighs and buttocks.” Women, he says, sometimes get belly fat due to hormonal changes that occur during menopause. Low testosterone levels in males means there is a greater accumulation of body fat, especially in the abdomen area.
 
How to shed abdominal fat
Excess abdominal fat is usually a consequence of a lifestyle of no physical activity as well as overeating. Magona says to get rid of stubborn abdominal fat, one needs to combine sound strategies like eating nutritious and unprocessed foods and a properly designed exercise program that stimulates the necessary hormonal and metabolic response within the body.
 
Effective exercises: 
Exercise is particularly effective in reducing visceral fat. Cardio-vasicular exercises have been proven to be very effective. Such exercises include jogging, cycling, jumping rope, dancing, swimming and walking. 
 
“Physically active people are less likely to suffer from the effects of excess visceral fat than inactive people. A brisk 30-minute walk six times a week or 17 miles of jogging per week, is enough to prevent excess accumulation of visceral fat,” Magona says.  
 
He adds that there are different types of exercises far from the routine sit-ups that are effective in fighting the abdominal bulge. 
 
For instance, prolonged stair climbing when incorporated into a cardio routine he says comes in handy in chiseling abdominal muscles.  
 
“On a 20 or more staircase, run or climb up and down 8-12 times. Combined with 30 minutes of aerobics or a 10-minute walk, this can be a sure way to reduce belly fat,” Magona says. 
 
Jumping rope is also another effective exercise that burns calories just as half an hour of jogging. 
others
 
Get enough sleep
Wamudenyi notes that enough sleep is pivotal as it allows the body to healthfully process fat. Research has shown that people who go without sleep for extended hours are often susceptible to weight gain as a result of certain physiological imbalances that develop over time.

Manage stress 
This is important as it in most cases leads to overeating. The upshot as a result of habitual stress eating is gaining weight.

Watch your food 
Wamudenyi advises that to minimise a stomach bulge or belly, one needs to rein in on the amount of calories in one’s diet. 
 
“People should mind the choice of foods they eat because lowering calorie intake is very important. Saturated fats, processed foods, alcohol, refined sugars and carbohydrates like those contained in white bread and pasta should completely be cut out from one’s diet,” he recommends. 
 
Recommended foods
Cucumber: “It contains sulfur and silicon which are key ingredients in helping the kidneys to excrete uric acid. The sulfur and silicon also help the liver to limit the production of fat cells in the body,”  Wamudenyi says,
 
Fresh milk: According to Wamudenyi, milk comes in handy in fighting belly fat as it prevents cholesterol depositing on arterial walls, limiting the activity of the enzyme of cholesterol in the body.
 
Green tea: It helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces appetite. “Green tea rich in antioxidants has mild diuretic properties that increase amount of fluids eliminated from the body,” Womudenyi explains.  
 
Lettuce: It contains iron and manganese. “These are beneficial to the proper functioning of the liver. Manganese reduces belly fat by stimulating the metabolic process in the body, removing fat cells.”
 
Consume more avocados and lean protein like peas, beans and fish. You should also add more fibre by eating whole grain bread, cereals, fruits, nuts and vegetables. 
 
If you are really hungry, have a 100-150 calorie whole food snack instead. Yogurt or a small fruit can do here.
 
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Women's health: Large waistlines could mean trouble
 
By Vision Reporter
 
This may sound crazy, but according to researchers, women whose waistlines are larger than their hips (central obesity) are more likely to have problems getting pregnant. This is because the belly usually stores visceral fat, a dangerous type of fat which lies around the liver, intestines and other vital body organs. 
 
Large waisted women are also twice more likely to have gallstone surgery and several cancers. Studies have linked breast cancer to visceral fat in women whose waist sizes were large in comparison to their height. 
 
Generally, excessive belly fat increases women’s risk of getting breast cancer by  one-third, while general obesity exposes women to a higher risk of getting cancers of the uterine, cervix, colon, kidney and pancreas.  
 
One study targeting teachers in California showed that women who had accumulated high levels of visceral fat (a waist circumference of more than 35 inches) had a 37% higher risk of developing asthma. This was regardless of their weight, although women who were both obese and large-waisted had a higher risk. According to a Danish study, such women are almost 5% more likely to die of heart disease. 
 
However, women in their menopause generally accumulate more belly fat than younger women. Researchers at Louisiana State University studied healthy middle-aged women and found that only those in menopause gained visceral fat because they produce less estrogen. 
 
Premenopausal women collect more subcutaneous fat on their behinds and thighs. This type of fat can protect women because it produces a hormone that fights some effects of visceral fat. 
 
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Men's health: Belly fat leads to  heart disease
 
By Elizabeth Namazzi
 
Men start collecting belly fat early in life, research shows, and they are likely to collect more belly fat than women. 
For most men, the accumulation of belly fat starts during and after adolescence, a fact that explains why more men die of heart disease than women.
 
One study showed that belly fat and large waistlines generally put men at a higher risk of developing and dying from any cause. 
 
If you have a huge waist or accumulated belly fat, research shows that you are likely to develop  diseases like heart diseases, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, high insulin resistance, low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnoea, among others.
 
According to Dr. Edward Ddumba of Nsambya hospital, if you drink a lot, over eat, do not exercise, get little sleep, stress a lot and smoke, you are more likely to accumulate excessive fat around the waist, abdomen, have general fat build up in the blood and become overweight and obese. This, he says, can lead to several disease conditions like diabetes and hypertension, which eventually lead to stroke. 
 
“Excessive fat around the waist and lower abdomen increases the risk for stroke, especially in those who are overweight. Too much food leads to excessive calories which are stored as fat. 
 
“This leads to being overweight or even obese. To stay healthy, the food you consume must be proportional to your level of physical activity in order to burn off the excess calories,” Ddumba     advises. 
 
 

Belly fat could start the end of your life

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