what is it? Fat packed deep in the abdomen, in and around your internal organs. Women with waists over 35 inches and men with waists over 40 inches are likely to have it. (For people of Asian descent, risk rises with measurements over 31.5 inches for women and 37.5 for men.) A large waist is dangerous even if your body weight is within the " healthy" range for your height. To measure your waist, wrap a tape measure snugly around your midsection at about belly-button height.
What causes it? Too many hamburgers, too much TV, and too much of all those other activities that keep you sitting down, like working and driving. In other words, a diet high in calories and a life devoid of exercise. Chronic stress plays a role, too, especially for women, since the stress hormone cortisol directs your body to store more fat in your abdomen.
1. A high-calorie diet, lack of exercise, and chronic stress conspire to prompt your body to store dangerous fat around your liver, pancreas, and other internal organs.
2. Intra-abdominal fat pumps free fatty acids and inflammatory compounds into the portal vein, the "superhighway" that delivers blood from your lower abdomen to the liver, pancreas, and other internal organs.
3. An influx of free fatty acids causes your liver to produce more “bad” LDL cholesterol, less “good” HDL cholesterol, more blood sugar, and less adiponectin, a hormone that regulates the use of blood sugar and keeps appetite in check. The result: Your risk of heart disease and diabetes rises.
4. The inflammatory compounds secreted by fat cells encourage the growth of plaque inside artery walls, boost blood pressure, and make blood more likely to clot - a recipe for a heart attack. They also make cells resistant to insulin, which in turn contributes to diseases from Alzheimer's to cancer.
why is it dangerous? Unlike the relatively harmless fat on your buttocks, hips, thighs, and even just below your skin at your waist, intra-abdominal fat churns out substances that raise your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, colon cancer, and even memory problems. These include inflammatory compounds that make blood stickier as well as free fatty acids that prompt your liver to produce more blood sugar and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
Top Prevention Strategies: Eat more fruit, vegetables. and whole grains and less saturated fat. Excercise most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. Find time to relax every day. Correct bad snoring caused by obstructive sleep apnea. (‘Simple Health Secrets’, by Reader’s Digest)