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Can Excess Body Fat Increase the Risks of Heart Disease?


Cardiovascular disease remains one of the leading causes of death among men and women globally. In fact, about 1 in every 4 deaths in the U.S. is the result of heart disease, and the biggest risk factors are high blood pressure, obesity, being overweight, and lack of physical activity. New research even suggests that the region of the body where fat is distributed also has a major impact on a person’s risk of heart disease.

Belly Fat and the Heart

Having a slim, toned belly shouldn’t only have to do with body aesthetics, but good overall health as well. As we mentioned above, the location of your body fat can elevate heart disease, as well as your risk of cancer and excess stomach fat. So, if you’ve been thinking that your extra belly fat around isn’t causing much harm, think again! Individuals who have excess fat around the waist are at higher risk of heart disease, as compared to those with fat elsewhere.

What most don’t know is that fat cells are extremely active; they release hormones and other chemicals that can fuel inflammation, and inflammation is linked to an increased risk of not only heart disease but diabetes and cancer too. Even people who are at a “healthy” weight but have unusual fat distribution in the abdomen can experience health issues. Studies link individuals who show increased amounts of fat with adverse changes in heart disease risks. In addition, each extra pound gained from the start of the study was linked to new onset of high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome.

What Causes Excess Body Fat?

By now, you should know that excess body fat can be extremely unhealthy for your heart, but what are the leading factors that cause it? Some of the most common reasons we gain unwanted fat in the belly include:

  1. Sugary foods & beverages
  2. Alcohol
  3. Low protein & fiber diet
  4. Fruit juice
  5. Bacteria in your gut
  6. Menopause
  7. Genetics
  8. Lack of sleep

Am I in the Safe Zone?

Abdominal fat is the worst type of excess fat, but how can we be sure our fat is being distributed accurately? A good indicator can be from your waist-to-hip ratio. To calculate, you simply divide the circumference of your waist by that of your hip. If the number is greater than 1 for men and greater than 0.85 for women, it is considered excessive.

Many factors can cause unnecessary fat and, in some cases, you may be able to control it before experiencing complications. Making better decisions about how you eat and how often you exercise can help prevent and reduce your chance of heart disease.

Want to learn more about how excess fat affects your health? Call our specialists at (504) 475-9817 today!