Belly Fat Defined

There are two kinds of belly fat

Not all fat is the same. It behaves differently in different places, and its behavior is the key to what your fat is doing to you.

People store most of their fat in two ways:

  • Just under the skin in the thighs, hips, buttocks, and abdomen. That's subcutaneous (under the skin) fat.
  • Deeper inside, around the vital organs (heart, lungs, digestive tract, liver, etc.) in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. That's called "visceral" fat.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat we can see, and visceral fat is the fat we can’t.

Though many people are self-conscious about the fat they can see, research shows that hidden fat -- in people of any size -- may pose the bigger threat.

Like Another Organ

Fat doesn't just sit idle. It acts like an organ that secretes substances.

While visceral fat provides necessary cushioning around organs, it secretes lots of nasty substances that can be absorbed by the neighboring organs.

For instance, visceral fat cells release inflammatory compounds that can lead to insulin resistance and some cancers. Excess visceral fat is linked to greater risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and cancers of the breast, colon, and endometrium.

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