Why Belly Fat Hurts the Heart
Belly Fat, Also Called Visceral Fat, Boosts Inflammation and Atherosclerosis, Say Scientists Studying Mice
Jan. 29, 2008 -- Belly fat tucked deep inside your waistline may be worse
for your arteries than fat padding the rest of your body.
That's according to University of Michigan scientists studying the
health risks of abdominal fat, also called visceral fat.
Here's what Miina Ohman, MD, PhD, and colleagues learned from their lab
tests in mice:
- Belly fat appears to boost inflammation.
- Belly fat is linked to worse atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries),
which makes heart attacks more likely.
In those tests, some mice got a transplant of visceral fat. Other mice got a
transplant of subcutaneous fat (which sits directly under the skin,
not deep in the belly) or no fat transplant.
The bottom line: Visceral fat brought the most inflammation and the worst
After visceral fat transplantation, mice developed less severe
atherosclerosis if their chow was laced with the diabetes drug Actos for 10 weeks. But Actos
didn't affect atherosclerosis in other mice, and the researchers aren't ready
to recommend any drugs for visceral fat.
Don't disregard the study, published online in Circulation, just
because the tests were done in mice. Other studies have linked belly fat to health
risks in people.
Belly fat does budge, but it takes work. Researchers have found that exercise
is a must
to get rid of belly fat. If you're not exercising already, check with your
doctor before you start a new fitness plan.