Health Implications of the “Spare Tyre”
There are generally two types of body shapes which best describes the location of body fat storage. Individuals who store fat on the tummy region are often termed “apples”, and those who store fat on the hips and thighs are referred to as “pears”.
Carrying excess fat on the abdomen, also known as visceral fat or central obesity is more dangerous as it significantly increases the risk of developing heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and even infertility. We all need a certain amount of body fat to protect our organs, but when excess tummy fat accumulates internally over time, it can sit deeper and form a blanket over vital organs.
The normal functioning of the heart, liver etc can be affected and the fat can even clog the blood supply to this area. When too much fat surrounds the pancreas, it can reduce the amount of insulin produced. Insulin is essential for the body to burn sugar for energy production. Frequently consuming sugary foods and drinks can have a combined effect to cause “insulin resistance” which often leads to the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
Measuring waist circumference in conjunction with weight and height is the best predictor of future health.
The correct method for measuring the waist is using a metal tape, taking the midpoint between the lowest rib and the top of the hip bone on one side.
If the waist exceed 32” for women, there are increased health risks and over 35” poses even more significant health risks.
The waist for men is recommended to be under 37” (not equivalent to the trouser size!) and serious risk arises for diabetes, heart attacks, stroke and even some cancers when the waist exceeds 40”.
The NANS report found that only 50% of the Irish population had a healthy waist circumference last year. An international study involving 160,000 people in 63 countries found that the chances of developing heart disease doubles, if waists are “in the red”. The study also found that surplus fat on the tummy caused men to be three times more likely to develop diabetes and women were six times at higher risk than those with a healthy waist measurement.
Deflating the Tyre
If your waist measurement has been in the red for a few years, it is highly advisable to firstly check your bloods with the GP to out rule any immediate health risks i.e. total, LDL and HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and of course fasting glucose levels to out rule diabetes.
A healthy diet is essential including lots of fruit and vegetables, lean meat and oily type fish.
Foods high in saturated fat should be avoid e.g. fat on meat, fried foods, pastries and cream. Sugary foods, drinks and alcohol should be consumed in moderation.
There are several studies relating to sports nutrition which have found that drinking three cups of green tea every day can significantly reduce body fat levels when in conjunction with regular physical activity.
The latest statistics in Ireland have found that two out of every three adults and one in five children are either overweight or clinically obese. Tackling this weight at any age can greatly prevent or reverse the often silent damage from poor diet and lack of physical activity to help reverse the negative effects on overall health.
Should you wish to discuss this matter further or like to book in for an individual consultation, then please contact the clinic below.
Written By: Ellen Roche Dietitian
Nutri Vive Nutrition Clinics