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Abdominal obesity, also known as central obesity has a high prevalence in Asian Indians, South Asians and has a strong correlation with cardiovascular, metabolic and vascular diseases.  Abdominal obesity, is when excessive fat accumulates around the stomach and abdomen has built up to the extent that is likely to have a negative impact on health.  Also, what remains less known is the emerging link between obesity and cancer. Abdominal obesity can occur even in the absence of elevated body mass index (BMI). Abdominal obesity has been found even at BMI level < 20 or seen at a young age.

Some quick facts on obesity:

  • 30-65 percent of adult urban Indians are either over weight, obese or have abdominal obesity.
  • Obese people have higher chances of developing cancers.
  • Abdominal obesity is an independent cardiovascular risk.
  • Fatty belly leads to higher death risk.

Causes of abdominal obesity:

  • A diet, low in fiber and high in refined grains may lead to increased belly fat
  • Frequently consuming food and beverages high in sugar may cause belly fat gain
  • Trans fats increases the inflammation that may drive insulin resistance and accumulation of belly fats
  • Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of several diseases and is linked to excess belly fats
  • Inactivity promotes belly fats
  • Hormonal changes at menopause results in fat storage from the hips and thighs to visceral fat in the abdomen
  • Genes appear to play a role in high waist hip ratio and storage of excess calories as belly fats

Excess body fat has serious consequences for health. It is associated with high levels of LDL(bad) cholesterol, triglycerides and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. Excess body fat contributes to major cause of death and disability, heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, fatty liver and depression. A pot belly is a growing health concern.

Ways to reduce belly fats:

  • Soluble fiber helps fight belly fat. Consumption of flaxseeds, avocado, legumes, black berries are helpful
  • Avoiding trans-fat in diet helps reduce inflammation, risk of heart disease and abdominal fat gain. Examples of trans fats are Biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, margarine, cream filled candies, doughnuts, fried fast foods, frozen Pizza
  • Cutting on alcohol helps reduce belly fats
  • Protein is an important nutrient for weight control
  • Restricting high sugar content foods intake reduces abdominal fat
  • Engaging in stress relieving activities decreases abdominal fats
  • Aerobic exercises help in improving health
  • Replacing refined carbohydrates with whole carbohydrates improves metabolic health and reduces belly fat

Lifestyle modification and combining various methods that are proven to be effective are key to losing abdominal fat and keeping it off.