Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Why Belly Fat Hurts the Heart

Belly Fat, Also Called Visceral Fat, Boosts Inflammation and Atherosclerosis, Say Scientists Studying Mice
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

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 atherosclerosis.

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.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure