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Men's Belly Size Predicts Heart Disease

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Updated January 04, 2007

Clinical studies have revealed that the size of a man's belly is actually a better predictor of heart disease than general obesity. Men with central obesity (beer belly to me and you) tend to develop higher blood pressure, regardless of body mass index (BMI) than men who store fat in other areas of the body.

The study undertaken by Dr Alfonso Siani and his team from the National Research Council in Avellino, Italy, involved more than 700 men aged 25 to 75 who were not taking blood pressure-lowering medication. The researchers measured blood glucose and insulin levels after an overnight fast, calculated BMI and took three different blood pressure readings. Abdominal circumference, a marker of central obesity, was determined by measuring the waist in relation to the hips.

The study also found a relationship between belly size, age and high blood pressure. Moreover, the volunteers showed higher insulin levels when consuming sugary drinks. This in turn was related to higher blood pressure. Whereas body mass index has always been used as a key measure in assessing risk to heart disease, it is clear that belly size correlates more closely to other well known risk factors such as LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood glucose levels and low levels of HDL cholesterol (beneficial cholesterol).

Good Reasons to Loose Weight

  • Weight loss lowers elevated blood pressure in overweight and obese persons with high blood pressure.
  • Weight loss lowers elevated levels of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides, and to raise low levels of HDL-cholesterol in overweight and obese persons with dyslipidemia.

  • [il]Weight loss lowers elevated blood glucose levels in overweight and obese persons with type 2 diabetes. 

    Belly Busting Weight Loss Advice
    Use the BMI to assess overweight and obesity. Body weight alone can be used to follow weight loss, and to determine the effectiveness of therapy. The initial goal of weight loss therapy should be to reduce body weight by about 10 percent from baseline. Weight loss should be about 1 to 2 pounds per week for a period of 6 months.

      Low Calorie Weight Loss
    Low calorie diets (LCD) should be employed for weight loss in overweight and obese persons. Reducing fat as part of an LCD is a practical way to reduce calories. Reducing dietary fat alone without reducing calories is not sufficient for weight loss. However, reducing dietary fat, along with reducing dietary carbohydrates, can help reduce calories. A diet that is individually planned to help create a deficit of 500 to 1,000 kcal/day should be an integral part of any program aimed at achieving a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. 

    Exercise and Weight Loss
    Physical activity should be part of a comprehensive weight loss therapy and weight control program because it:

  • Modestly contributes to weight loss in overweight and obese adults

  • May decrease abdominal fat

  • Increases heart lung fitness

  • May help with maintenance of weight loss.
  • Physical activity should be an integral part of weight loss therapy and weight maintenance. Initially, moderate levels of physical activity for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week, should be encouraged. All adults should set a long-term goal to accumulate at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week.

    The combination of a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity is recommended since it produces weight loss that may also result in decreases in abdominal fat and increases in heart lung fitness. 

    Article Source: Advice adapted from the Expert Panel on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults.

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