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The Risks of Belly Fat -- and How to Beat Them

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The Hidden Health Risk continued...

How can you tell if your belly fat is putting your health at risk? That part is easy. No special blood tests or scans are required. All you need is a tape measure. The size of your waist says it all.

The higher the number, the greater the danger your tummy poses to your health.

  • For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more is cause for concern.
  • For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches or more could spell trouble.

“If you have to move to a bigger pants size, even if your weight is considered normal for your height, or even if you haven’t noticed much weight gain, that’s an important sign it’s time to start eating better and exercising more,” Jacobs says.

A Tough Change to Make

Most of the time, that’s easier said than done. Is it worth the effort? Dagogo-Jack points to several studies that he says show the “spectacular” effects of even modest weight loss in preventing the onset of diabetes and other problems.

That should be great news for the 54 million people who have the high blood sugar levels that put them in the prediabetes category. Once you have it, type 2 diabetes is likely to follow within a decade.

Dropping belly fat can be a challenge. If you feel your efforts aren’t giving you the results you want, here are 7 ways to change things up:

Skip the fruit juice. It might seem like a healthy swap for sugary colas, but it’s not. All the fat-reducing fiber in the fruit has been removed, leaving only the pure fruit sugars that go straight to your waistline.

Eat your veggies. They should fill up at least half your plate, especially at your biggest meal. Choose more nonstarchy varieties (think leafy greens, broccoli, and beans) than their carb-filled kin (potatoes, corn, and carrots).

Go natural. Processed foods are not your friends. When you’re in a rush, it’s easy to overlook the fact that packaged foods are often loaded with trans fats, sugar, and salt -- all guaranteed to boost belly fat.

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