A new French study suggests that a high waist measurement is associated with decreased lung function, giving people yet another reason to lose those so called “love handles.” In addition to other health threats posed by fat, new research shows that fat on the abdomen affects the ability to breathe.
Health Risks of Abdominal Fat
Fat tends to accumulate on the waistline as people age, but along with the fat comes a host of potentially deadly diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, some cancers and a group of risk factors called metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of factors that increase risk of heart disease, including unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and abdominal fat. Abdominal obesity is defined as a waist measurement of over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men,
Fat tends to accumulate on the abdomen more as people age. Women who have never gained weight around the waist often find fat accumulating on the waist after menopause. The fat that sticks out is unsightly, but it is the fat contained deep within the abdomen that poses the most adverse health effects.
The good news is that the fat deep within the abdomen responds well to a program of a healthy diet and exercises that target the tummy. Mayo Clinic website contains an informative article with specific exercise tips to target belly fat.
Belly Fat can Affect Breathing
The health data of over 120,000 people from the Paris Investigations Preventives et Cliniques Center analyzed their alcohol use, smoking history, demographic information, lung function, BMI, waist circumference and other measurements of metabolic health.
People with excess fat on the belly were twice as likely to have breathing difficulties caused by impaired lung function. Researchers were not sure why people with fat on the bellies had breathing problems. It is possible that belly fat restricts the diaphragm, making it difficult for the lungs to expand and take in air. It is also possible that he fat itself causes inflammation that harms the lungs.
Further research is needed to understand the relationship between breathing problems and fat on the abdomen. It is possible that people who have breathing difficulties may find relief by losing weight around the middle. A healthy diet and exercises that target the abdomen can help whittle the waist and improve overall health.
Abdominal obesity is more than unsightly and unflattering. Belly fat is associated with serious medical conditions that affect people’s health, wellness and mortality.
Study results were published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, in the second issue for March.