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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 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?
People who gain belly fat are at greater risk of serious health problems, even death, than are people who accumulate fat in other areas — and men are more likely than women to gain weight around the waist. Regardless of your overall weight, having a large amount of belly fat increases your risk of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Some types of cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Insulin resistance
- High triglycerides
- Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome
- Sleep apnea
How can you tell if you have too much belly fat?
Your waist size is a good indicator of whether you have too much belly fat. Although measurements that compare your hip and waist circumference (waist-to-hip ratio) or compare your height and weight (body mass index) are more precise, your waist size alone can give you a good estimate. For most men, the risk factors for heart disease and other diseases increase with a waist size greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters).
To measure your waist:
- Place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hipbone.
- Pull the tape measure until it fits snugly around you but doesn't push into your skin.
- Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
- Relax, exhale and measure your waist — no sucking in your belly!
Does age play a role in gaining belly fat?
As you age, you lose muscle — especially if you're not physically active. Muscle loss can slow the rate at which your body burns calories. In turn, if you don't limit your calories or increase your physical activity, you may gain weight.Next page
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