Men's health (18)
- Belly fat in men: Why weight loss matters
- Penis health: Identify and prevent problems
- Kegel exercises for men: Understand the benefits
- see all in Men's health
Belly fat in men: Why weight loss matters
Belly fat is nothing to joke about. Find out what causes belly fat, the health risks it poses for men, and what you can do to lose the extra pounds.By Mayo Clinic staff
If you're carrying a few extra pounds, you're not alone. But this is one case where following the crowd isn't a good idea. Carrying extra weight — especially belly fat — can be risky.
Michael D. Jensen, M.D., an endocrinology specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., answers common questions about belly fat in men.
Why is belly fat a concern for men?
CLICK TO ENLARGE
The trouble with belly fat is that it's not limited to the extra layer of padding located just below the skin (subcutaneous fat). It also includes visceral fat — which lies deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your internal organs.
Regardless of your overall weight, having a large amount of belly fat increases your risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Colorectal cancer
- Sleep apnea
Does age or genetics play a role in gaining belly fat?
Your weight is largely determined by how you balance the calories you eat with the energy you burn. If you eat too much and exercise too little, you're likely to pack on excess pounds — including belly fat.
However, aging plays a role. As you age, you lose muscle — especially if you're not physically active. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. In addition, in some men fat cells in the arms and legs lose the ability to store fat, which causes any excess fat to go to the abdomen.
Your genes also can affect your chances of being overweight or obese, as well as play a role in where you store fat.Next page
(1 of 2)
- Jacobs EJ, et al. Waist circumference and all-cause mortality in a large US cohort. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2010;170:1293.
- Ishikawa J, et al. An increased visceral-subcutaneous adipose tissue ratio is associated with difficult-to-treat hypertension in men. Journal of Hypertension. 2010;28:1340.
- Winter Y, et al. Contribution of obesity and abdominal fat mass to risk of stroke and transient ischemic attacks. Stroke. 2008;12:3145.
- Simpson L, et al. Sex differences in the association of regional fat distribution with the severity of obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep. 2010;33:467.
- Understanding adult obesity. Weight-Control Information Network. http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/understanding.htm. Accessed Feb. 27, 2013.
- Better health and you: Tips for adults. Weight-Control Information Network. http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/better_health.htm#loseweight. Accessed Feb. 27, 2013.
- Snijder MB, et al. What aspects of body fat are particularly hazardous and how do we measure them? International Journal of Epidemiology. 2006;35:83.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/PAGUIDELINES/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed Feb. 27, 2013.
- Gonzalez CA, et al. Diet and cancer prevention: Contributions from the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition (EPIC) study. European Journal of Cancer. 2010;46:2555.
- Vadstrup ES, et al. Waist circumference in relation to history of amount and type of alcohol: Results from the Copenhagen city heart study. International Journal of Obesity. 2003;27:238.
- Arsenault BJ, et al. Physical inactivity, abdominal obesity and risk of coronary heart disease in apparently healthy men and women. International Journal of Obesity. 2010;34:340.
- McArdle WD, et al. Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010:821.
- Coutinho T, et al. Central obesity and survival in subjects with coronary artery disease: A systematic review of the literature and collaborative analysis with individual subject data. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2011;57:1877.
- Slentz CA, et al. The effects of aerobic versus resistance training on visceral and liver fat stores, liver enzymes and insulin resistance by HOMA in overweight adults from STRRIDE AT/RT: A randomized trial. American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011;301:E1033.
- Coutinho, T, et al. Combining body mass index with measures of central obesity in the assessment of mortality in subjects with coronary disease: Role of 'normal weight central obesity.' Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2013;61:553.
- Assessing your weight and health risk. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/risk.htm. Accessed Feb. 26, 2013.
- American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/dietandphysicalactivity/bodyweightandcancerrisk/body-weight-and-cancer-risk-effects. Accessed April 3, 2013.
- Wilmore JH, et al. Physiology of Sport and Exercise. 4th ed. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics; 2008:492.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed April 3, 2013.
- Key recommendations. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/recommen.htm. Accessed April 8, 2013.
- Jensen MD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 8, 2013.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 8, 2013.