Most of us aren’t happy with our paunches, but the latest research shows they’re more than just physically unappealing.
Even if you’re not overweight, excess fat around the belly increases your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses, and Mayo Clinic scientists report that even normal-weight individuals with this “central” fat are over 50% more likely to die earlier from all causes than those who are obese. That’s because belly fat tends to be of the visceral variety, a metabolically distinct type of fat that releases hormones that promote insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to diabetes. People with more abdominal fat may also be at higher risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease because they tend to have less muscle overall, which means they may not be getting enough exercise. The results add to a growing appreciation that healthy weight is more than just a number; it’s also about finding the right metabolic balance that keeps unhealthy types of fat to a minimum.