Abdominal Obesity

Abdominal obesity increases the risk of heart disease even if BMI is normal

The global obesity epidemic is well established, with most countries experiencing a four-decade increase in obesity prevalence. Since 1975, global obesity has nearly tripled. Over 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight in 2016; 650 million of these adults were obese.

Obesity is directly associated with cardiovascular risk factors such as dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and sleep disorders. Obesity also contributes to the development and mortality of cardiovascular disease, regardless of other cardiovascular risk factors. 

Recent data emphasize the importance of abdominal obesity, as measured by waist circumference, as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease independent of body mass index. The relationship between abdominal fat and cardiovascular outcomes demonstrates unequivocally that visceral fat is a health hazard. Because abdominal obesity has such a strong risk-inducing effect, even in people who are overweight or obese based on their BMI, low levels of fat tissue around their midsection and organs may indicate lower cardiovascular disease risks.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, non-pregnant women with waist sizes greater than 35 inches and men with waist sizes greater than 40 inches are at an increased risk.

Experts evaluated research on managing and treating obesity, particularly abdominal obesity, for this statement. According to the writing group, calorie restriction can help reduce abdominal fat, and aerobic exercise is the most beneficial physical activity for reducing abdominal obesity. Their analysis discovered that adhering to current recommendations of 150 minutes of physical activity per week may be sufficient to reduce abdominal fat without requiring longer activity times. Exercise, or a combination of dietary changes and physical activity, has been shown to reduce abdominal obesity in some cases, even in the absence of weight loss.