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Sure Signs You Have "Too Much" Abdominal Fat

How to tell if you have too much belly fat, according to experts.

If you've gone up a notch or two on your belt you're not alone. Some reports say 42% of Americans have gained weight during the pandemic. Putting on a few pounds is normal, especially as we age, but how much is too much? And what about visceral fat—the fat around your belly, the kind that can lead to all number of health issues? Eat This, Not That! Health, talked to experts who weigh in on how to know when we have too much abdominal fat. Read the six signs to watch out for—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


A Little Extra Weight Can Make a Big Difference

Overweight woman discussing test results with doctor in hospital.

Extra fat in your midsection may not seem like a big deal, but Dr. Terrell Smith MD, MPH, Founding Physician of Spora Health, a telehealth platform offering primary care for people of color, says, "Abdominal fat can be sneaky. Because it's tucked away inside your body, it can be easily forgotten, but can certainly have a negative impact on your health. You may not be seriously overweight, but that doesn't mean you don't have too much abdominal fat."

RELATED: The #1 Way to Lose Visceral Fat, Say Experts


Waist to Hip Ratio

flat belly

Dr. Smith explains" Figure out your waist-to-hip ratio. You can do this by measuring the smallest part of your waist (usually right above your belly button) and measuring the widest part of your hips. Then divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference to get your waist-to-hip ratio. Generally, a ratio above .85 for women and .90 for men indicates abdominal obesity. Keep in mind, waist-to-hip ratio is only 1 variable, as different people come in different shapes and sizes. However, it is useful in tracking your body changes over time."

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Grab a Tape Measure

Tape measure

According to Dr. Smith, "One telltale sign that your belly fat is putting you at risk is the size of your waist. No special blood tests or scans are needed, just a tape measure. The higher the number, the greater the danger your tummy might pose to your health.

  • For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more is cause for concern.
  • For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches or more could spell trouble."

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Increased Pant Size

Overweight woman in tight clothes at home is trying to fit into tight jeans.

If you've had to buy a larger size in jeans or pants, Dr. Smith says that's an indication you might have too much abdominal fat. "If you have to move to a bigger pants size, even if your weight is considered normal for your height, or even if you haven't noticed much weight gain, that's still a sign it's time to start taking action by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Early intervention helps keep those fat cells from building up in your abdomen!"

RELATED: 7 Ways You're Ruining Your Body After 60, Say Experts


Other Areas to Measure


Haylie Pomroy, a top Hollywood nutritionist and founder of the Haylie Pomroy Group reveals, "the best way you can determine if you have too much abdominal fat is by going to your belly button and measuring. Take three measurements: an inch above, at the button, and an inch below. These three measurements should be equal. If you measure wider above the belly button than below, you're storing visceral fat. You can also determine if you're using this area as a storage spot – do a pre- and post-bedtime measurement to help you determine if you have abdominal fat. If you're more than an inch larger when you go to bed than when you woke up, that's how you know – and that's not good!  Remember, try to do this right before bed so things like bloating or digestive reactivity have settled down."

RELATED:  Signs You Have an "Unhealthy Gut"


A Bloated Belly

woman bloated and suffering

A bloated belly isn't just uncomfortable, but could lead to excess abdominal fat Pomroy explains. If you get a "food baby" you're not processing your food properly, and we don't want to measure at that moment. If you have an inch of growth before bed, that can mean there's inflammation in that region that could lead to body fat gain. Once you create a fat cell you can never get rid of it, you can only shrink it to lose weight." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather