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Why Does Fat Accumulate in the Belly? continued...

Beer bellies tend to be more prominent in older people because as you get older, your calorie needs go down, you often become less active, and gaining weight gets easier.

As hormone levels decline in men and women as they age, they're more likely to store fat around the middle. Menopausal women who take hormone replacement therapy tend to have less of a shift toward more belly fat than those who do not.

Studies suggest that smokers may also deposit more fat in their bellies, Jensen says.

What’s Wrong With a Beer Belly?

Belly fat in the midsection does more than reduce your chances of winning the swimsuit competition. It's linked to a variety of health problems, from type 2 diabetes to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Carrying extra pounds in your thighs or hips is less risky than carrying them in the abdominal region. Further, subcutaneous fat that you can grab around your waist and on your thighs, hips, and buttocks is not as dangerous as the visceral fat that's found deep within the abdominal cavity surrounding your organs.

Visceral fat within the abdominal wall is frequently measured by waist circumference.

"When waist circumference exceeds 35 inches for women and 40 for men, it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and overall mortality," Jensen says. He cautions that these numbers are simply guidelines, and recommends keeping your waist size below these numbers.

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