How much do people know about fat? Often, they look at it universally. In reality, the body can have different types. One can be more dangerous than the others. Consider central obesity, for example.
What Is Central Obesity?
Sometimes called visceral or abdominal obesity, central obesity is the build-up of excessive abdominal fat around the stomach, leading to insulin resistance and inflammation in the body. This increases the risk of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
The causes of central obesity are not fully understood. Studies suggest that the following factors play a role:
Genetics: Some people inherit genes that make them more likely to develop central obesity, particularly if they live an inactive lifestyle and eat a diet high in fat and calories. If both parents are obese, there is a greater chance their child will be obese as well.
Age: As we age, our body’s ability to produce adiponectin decreases while our levels of cortisol increase, which leads to increased weight gain around the waist.
Gender: Women have less android fat than men, even when controlling for total body fatness or BMI. In other words, women tend to carry more abdominal fat than even if their overall proportion of body weight is the same as men. This can be related to sex hormones, in particular estrogen, which plays a huge role in regulating and distributing fat.
Lifestyle Factors: Sedentary lifestyle or immobility (such as spending long hours sitting at desk jobs) also seems to increase risks for central obesity even when calorie intake is cut back. Stressful experiences can lead to stress eating, which often means more calories consumed than burned, resulting in increased fat stores around the waistline.
Medications: There are several classes of medications that have been linked to the development of central obesity. These include corticosteroids, thyroid hormones, antidepressants, anti-epileptic medications, antiretrovirals, and contraceptive pills.
How Do You Manage Central Obesity?
Currently, there are no known ways to “target” fat loss to one area over another (e.g., hips or belly). Instead, managing abdominal obesity involve any of these three general strategies:
- Weight loss
- Treatment with medications that modify hunger or fullness signals to the brain (e.g., appetite suppressants
- Bariatric surgery
Weight loss that includes the diet-and-exercise combo can already do wonders in reducing central obesity and its accompanying risks. In one study by the CDC, losing at least 5 percent of the body fat can already improve the body’s response to insulin.
Fat might not completely disappear from the abdominal area, though, regardless of how one exercises or eats healthy meals. In this case, they can benefit from a belly fat reduction treatment. Undergoing this treatment also avoids having plenty of loose skin later.
A variety of different medications have been investigated for the treatment of central obesity. Currently, two medications have been approved by the FDA for long-term treatment, one of which is Orlistat.
Orlistat is a medication that works in the digestive system to inhibit gastric and pancreatic lipases, enzymes involved in breaking down dietary triglycerides into absorbable free fatty acids. However, it doesn’t reduce carbohydrate absorption, which can be helpful since most people who need to lose weight also need to lower their intake of simple sugars (i.e., “empty calories”).
Bariatric surgery is an option for people who meet certain criteria specified by their physicians. It is a general term used to describe different surgical procedures that limit the amount of food an individual can consume or absorb.
These surgeries cause weight loss by physically restricting the amount of space in one’s stomach (e.g., with staples, adjustable gastric banding, vertical-banded gastroplasty), creating a mal-absorptive state (e.g., Roux-en-Y gastric bypass), or both.
The most common technique involves dividing the stomach into two chambers, one much smaller than the other, and attaching them in a way that food can no longer be absorbed as it passes between them into the larger upper chamber. This restriction typically results in reduced calorie intake and cause weight loss.
Due to the risks associated with surgery, bariatric surgery is generally regarded as an option of last resort for people who have not succeeded with other weight loss methods. The most successful operations might result in a 30 percent or more reduction in excess body weight within one year.
What’s the best way to deal with central obesity? It all depends on many factors, although the best person to help obese individuals is their doctor. The choice might be one of the three, a combination, or all of them.
Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.