Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

The Truth About Fat

Everything you need to know about fat, including an explanation of which is worse -- belly fat or thigh fat.

Belly Fat continued...

But if you've got an oversize belly, figuring out how much is visceral and how much is subcutaneous isn't as important as recognizing a big belly is unhealthy, she says. How big is too big? Women with a waist circumference more than 35 inches and men with a waist circumference more than 40 inches are at increased disease risk.

Abdominal fat is viewed as a bigger health risk than hip or thigh fat, Whitmer and other experts say.  And that could mean having a worse effect on insulin resistance, boosting the risk of diabetes, and a worse effect on blood lipids, boosting heart and stroke risks.

Thigh Fat, Buttocks Fat

While men tend to accumulate fat in the belly, it's no secret women, especially if "pear-shaped," accumulate it in their thighs and buttocks.

Unsightliness aside, emerging evidence suggests that pear-shaped women are protected from metabolic disease compared to big-bellied people, says Fried.

"Thigh fat and butt fat might be good," she says, referring to that area's stores of subcutaneous fat. But the benefit of women being pear shaped may stop at menopause, when women tend to deposit more fat in the abdomen.

Weight Loss and Fat Loss

So when you lose weight, what kind or kinds of fat do you shed? "You're losing white fat," Fried tells WebMD. "People tend to lose evenly all over."

The results change a bit, however, if you add workouts to your calorie reduction, she says. "If you exercise plus diet you will tend to lose slightly more visceral fat from your belly."

"We're at an exciting point in science," says Whitmer, echoing the input from other scientists in the field.

Whitmer and others expect more discoveries about fat of all types to be made in the near future.

1|2|3
Reviewed on July 13, 2009

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
Woman trying clothes / dress
Assessment
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens
 

Special Sections