We’ve always heard that being overweight or obese is dangerous for our health. After all, the excess body fat clogs up our blood vessels, increases the risk of high blood pressure, slows down organ function, and so many other nasty side effects. The truth is that carrying around extra weight and fat can be harmful to your long-term health and raise your mortality risk.
But what if I told you that even healthy people can have high mortality rates? It may sound impossible, but the reality is that a bit of extra belly fat can be a lot more dangerous than you’d think.
A team of researchers from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences evaluated more than 42,000 participants from around England and Scotland. They categorized the participants according to weight: normal weight, overweight, obese, normal weight with central obesity (fat clustered around their bellies), overweight with central obesity, and obese with central obesity.
The evidence pointed to a higher risk of death among the patients with central obesity. Even the normal BMI patients saw an increase in mortality rates if they had excess fat around their bellies. The mortality rates among the obese with central obesity were also noticeably higher. What does this mean? Simple: excess belly fat is bad, even if the rest of you is perfectly healthy.
The normal weight patients saw an increase in their mortality rates as a result of the fat stored around their bellies. Their body fat percentage overall had far less effect on their health; it was their gut fat that really proved the most important factor.
Let this be a lesson. In the end, what matters isn’t only getting to your target weight. If you don’t take steps to reduce fat around your midsection, you may still be at risk for all the same diseases that result from overall obesity.
Belly fat can slow down organ function, increase the strain on your liver, clog up your cardiovascular system, and cause your heart to overwork. All of these things raise your risk of more serious problems like diabetes, heart disease, or metabolic function. Even if you have very little fat on the rest of your body or you’re in the normal BMI range, the fat around your belly can cause health issues down the line. You need to get rid of that belly fat for your health’s sake.