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The #1 Sign Your Belly Fat is "Dangerously High"

Belly fat is bad news for your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Worried about your belly fat? You're not alone—according to the CDC, 59% of U.S. adults have abdominal obesity, the prevalence of which has increased by 28% over 18 years. This is concerning considering excess weight around the abdomen is linked to a host of dangerous health conditions including heart disease and diabetes. Here are five signs your abdominal fat needs to be dealt with, stat. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Your Sleep Is Terrible

woman hugging pillow lying in bed alone
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Multiple studies show that poor sleep leads to excess belly fat, and excess belly fat then further disrupts sleep. "Inadequate sleep appears to redirect fat to the more dangerous visceral compartment," says cardiologist Virend Somers from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. "Importantly, although during recovery sleep there was a decrease in calorie intake and weight, visceral fat continued to increase. This suggests that inadequate sleep is a previously unrecognized trigger for visceral fat deposition, and that catch-up sleep, at least in the short term, does not reverse the visceral fat accumulation."

2

Constant Stress

frustrated and stressed businessman sitting at the office front a computer and holding head
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Not only can chronic stress cause belly fat through cortisol, but stress can lead to overeating. "While cortisol levels play a role, the bigger issue can be that when we're more stressed, we tend to be less mindful of our eating," says David Creel, Ph.D. "It is common for people to turn to food for comfort or to distract themselves from stressful life circumstances."

3

Drinking Beer and Spirits

beer
Thais Do Rio / Unsplash

Studies show the type of alcohol you choose to drink can have a direct impact on your belly fat. "Drinking beer and spirits is linked to elevated levels of visceral fat – the harmful type of fat that is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and other health complications – whereas drinking wine shows no such association with levels of this harmful fat and may even be protective against it, depending on the type of wine consumed," says Brittany Larsen, Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience & Graduate Assistant, Iowa State University.

4

You Never Exercise

 

Concept the woman is too lazy to Wake up in the morning for training

If you live a very sedentary lifestyle, abdominal fat could be a cause for concern. "Studies have shown that you can help trim visceral fat or prevent its growth with both aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) and strength training (exercising with weights)," Harvard Health advises. "Spot exercises, such as sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles but won't get at visceral fat. Exercise can also help keep fat from coming back."

5

The #1 Sign Of Dangerous Abdominal Fat Is…

Person measuring their waste line
iStock

The quickest way to find out just how dangerous your abdominal fat might be is to use a tape measure. "You can use a tape measure to get a good idea of whether you've packed on too many pounds around your abdomen," says Julie Chen, MD. "Place the tape measure around your belly button and level the sides at the top of your hip bones. For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches is a sign of too much visceral fat. For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches is considered high risk." 

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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