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The #1 Cause of "Too Much" Visceral Fat 

4 reasons why you have too much visceral, according to experts.

Visceral fat is stored in the body close to or around vital organs, so it's not always visibly seen, but that doesn't mean you don't have it. "Measuring your waist circumference is a great way to assess if you may have excess visceral fat. Most women should have a waist circumference of <35 inches, and most men should aim for <40 inches around the waist," 

Catherine Johnston, Registered Dietitian & Certified Personal Trainer says. Visceral fat is concerning because it's linked to a lot of different health issues like an increased risk of cancer, diabetes and other major conditions. So what causes it? Eat This, Not That! Health talked to experts who explain the main causes of visceral fat. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Why Visceral Fat is Dangerous

man having heart attack

Dr. Sepehr Lalezari Surgeon and Weight Loss Specialist with Dignity Health St. Mary in Long Beach explains, "Visceral fat is an important topic to discuss. It is associated with a wide array of health problems and is linked to several deadly and dangerous diseases like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There are differences in fat deposition. Subcutaneous fat is the fat that is under the skin and visceral fat is the fat that is deep inside of the abdomen and envelops our vital organs and there is even a veil of fat that covers our intestines and serves as the body's defense mechanism to bowel injury or infections."



Colorful DNA molecule

One of the causes for too much visceral fat is genetics, Dr. Lalezari says. "It is partially due to genetics and gonadal steroids play a major role in determining the distribution of body fat. In males it is the decrease in gonadal steroids and growth hormone (GH) that may explain the increase in visceral fat with aging and in postmenopausal females its the decline in estrogen and GH which may account for the increases in visceral fat. Of course genetics do play a major role. We've all seen the charts on the different body shapes: apple, pear, inverted triangle, box. The apple shaped body type is the most dangerous and a sign of excess visceral fat. People of this body type should pay particular attention to their weight because their health is usually at the greatest risk." 

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Poor Diet

Woman reaching for chip and holding soda in processed junk food array on table with popcorn

Not eating healthy is another contributing factor for too much visceral fat. Julie Bednarski MHSc, PHEc, RD Founder / CEO Healthy Crunch says, "A poor diet high in processed foods including simple sugars like fructose-sweetened foods and beverages can encourage belly fat. Choosing a balanced diet, full of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight."

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Not Enough Sleep or Poor Sleep Quality


"Adults who sleep five hours or less a night accumulate significantly more visceral fat than adults who sleep more than eight hours per night," Bednarski explains. "Yes, sleep can help you lose that belly fat."

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Lack of Movement

Obese woman laying on sofa with smartphone eating chips

Bednarski states, "Daily movement and exercise can help you reduce your waist circumference including belly fat. Most important is to find a movement that you enjoy doing every day." 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