When you stand naked in front of your full-length mirror, do you see one of those pear-shaped bodies, with weight accumulating around your hips and thighs? Or perhaps you see an apple-shaped body, in which most of your excess weight settles around your waistline? (If you see a tall, lithe Wonder Woman/supermodel-shaped body staring back at you in your mirror, you can just stop reading…)
Turns out that the apple-shaped body type may be the most dangerous for your heart health. According to Mayo Clinic cardiologists, there are two kinds of abdominal fat deposits that we need to worry about.
Subcutaneous fat is the fat you can feel if you pinch some skin and tissue around your middle. But belly fat (visceral fat) accumulates in your abdomen in the spaces between your organs. This belly or visceral fat surrounding major organs can be a serious health issue. Too much belly fat puts you at greater risk of heart disease, breast cancer and diabetes compared to excess subcutaneous fat. For an eye-popping look at what this belly fat is actually like, consider this MRI of two women from National Geographic.
One tool that has often been used to tell if you are overweight or obese is the Body Mass Index, which is a calculation based on a ratio of your height and weight, used in people age 18 to 65 who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
But The Heart & Stroke Foundation claims that it’s better to use BMI in conjunction with other body weight analysis tools as well – like a measuring tape! – because BMI doesn’t say where the fat is located or even if it’s fat at all and not muscle weight. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, had a BMI of 35 (translated as severely obese) during the height of his body-building career. See also: Abdominal Fat Trumps BMI.
What’s the remedy for all apple-shapes out there? The advice from experts at the Quebec Heart & Lung Institute is:
“Regular physical activity for the majority of women – just a good 45 minutes of brisk walking every day can do wonders for your waistline.”
© 2009 Carolyn Thomas www.myheartsisters.org
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- Heart-Healthy Weight: Secrets of the Always-Slim
- 5 Surprising Myths About Excess Weight
- Yes, French Women DO Get Fat!
- Women’s Heart Health Advice: “Walk Often, Walk Far!”
- Body Fat: Brown, White, Visceral, Belly, Butt
- Women & Heart Disease: Obesity is Contagious
- 20 Things Women Don’t Know About FAT