The belly fat is different from that of the hips or thighs. “All the epidemiological studies carried out over the past fifteen years have shown thatwaist circumference increase is correlated with the increased risk of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, ”underlines Prof. Max Lafontan, Research Director at Inserm.
How does abdominal fat work?
Unlike the superficial fat lodged under the skin, this deep, visceral fat is not inert. It releases various molecules (fatty acids, hormones, growth factors, etc.) into the bloodstream which will gradually hinder the proper functioning of the organs.
What is belly syndrome?
These cascading reactions unbalance the body. Little by little, all the turn signals turn red and form what is called the “metabolic syndrome”. Different criteria define this syndrome:
- an excessive waist size,
- a blood test showing high triglyceride levels and increased fasting blood sugar
- too much blood pressure
- and a lowered “good” cholesterol (HDL) level.
A person who presents at least three of these symptoms has a greater risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, etc.), but also cancer and liver disease.
Why is visceral fat toxic?
This fat sends messages that interfere with the functioning of organs. It is a whole balance that is upset.
- It disrupts essential organs: fat cells in the abdomen store fatty acids. “The problem is that this fat is drained by the blood vessels which supply the liver”, notes Professor Karine Clément, a specialist in obesity at the Institute of cardiometabolic and nutrition of Pitié-Salpêtrière (Paris). Via the bloodstream, fatty acids reach the liver. They will disrupt its functioning but also, through a chain reaction, that of the pancreas, muscles, and heart.
- It causes inflammation: immune cells infiltrate abdominal fat when weight gain. In response, the body triggers inflammation. This phenomenon also has harmful consequences since toxic molecules will leave in the bloodstream and reach the liver. “These inflammatory factors contribute to insulin resistance, which is associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This inflammation also disrupts cell biology, which could explain the increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer after menopause, ”adds Professor Clément.
- It attacks the cardiovascular system: at the same time, the cholesterol balance is modified: the bad (LDL) takes precedence over the good (HDL). Fat accumulates in the liver and blood vessels, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and fatty liver disease.
- It promotes insulin resistance: the liver will secrete more glucose. The pancreas responds by triggering a spike in insulin, a hormone used to regulate blood sugar levels. Over time, the body no longer responds properly to this insulin. He becomes “resistant”. A mechanism that leads to type 2 diabetes.
How do I know if my waist size is excessive?
The waist measurement is done standing, while standing upright, and at the level of the navel. It is considered that the waist circumference is excessive when it exceeds 94 cm for a man and 80 cm for a woman.
These figures are standards adapted to the morphology of Europeans. Some people have a bulge around the waistband, but little deep fat. To find out, you would have to perform a CT scan or an MRI! For now, we stick to the waistline, measured using a simple seamstress tape.