Not all extra pounds are created equal. For older women, location of fat deposits may be critical. Most people believe that being overweight poses a risk to your health and even mortality. However, according to a recent study, having more belly fat is more dangerous than excess body weight.
Researchers at the University of Arizona did a national study that found that location of fat matters, perhaps more than overall amount. More localized fat around the “danger zones” typically means increased risk.
The study supports other studies that have found that location and types of fat in the body play an important role in your health. Therefore the findings are not confined to older women.
When it comes to belly fat, the most dangerous type is not the kind you are able to “pinch” around your belly. The most dangerous type of belly fat is known as visceral fat. It lies deeper within the abdomen, and surrounds organs.
Older Women: Apple vs. Pear Shape
The researchers looked at 162,000 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79. They found that women who have apple-shaped bodies, and therefore more abdominal fat, have the highest risk of dying prematurely. Conversely, women who have pear-shaped bodies had lower risk.
Larger waistlines were consistently associated with higher death rates during the study.
Said one of the researchers;
“An older woman should be concerned when her body weight is below normal for her height, and less concerned when she is slightly heavier than normal.”
Among women between 70 and 79 years old, being overweight or even obese did not appear to cut short years off life, unless the fat was centered around the waist. We couldn’t find an explanation as to the possible reason for this.
Interestingly, Hispanic women appeared be naturally protected, as they had less mortality rate at any waist and BMI (body mass index) measurements than white or black women.
So, how do you get rid of dangerous belly fat?
Surprisingly, especially in this information age, many people still think that doing a bunch of crunches or “sit ups” will flatten their belly. Not so. A combination of sensible diet and exercise that targets overall body fat is still the best known way to go.
You can read a more detailed report on this study at the WebMD website.