"Spare tire" or "love handles" – which is worse for your heart?

Posted at 5:35 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-28 17:35:50-04

A six-year study looking at abdominal fat quantity and quality concluded adults who carry a spare tire in their midsection are more at risk for heart disease than those who have love handles.

t’s called adipose tissue, meaning fat in the stomach. 

Researchers scanned the stomachs of over 1,000 men and women with an average age of 45. They found an increase in fat was linked to new and worsening heart disease risk factors. 

Question: Why would fat in the belly be worse than love handles?

Belly fat is associated with high blood pressure, high triglycerides levels, low HDL or good cholesterol levels, and a greater risk for diabetes. These risks significantly increased when fat was stored inside the abdomen, called visceral fat. 

This fat is deeper, surrounds your internal organs and may cause premature death.

People who are thin can still have too much visceral or deep belly fat.  It likes inactivity.  So you can watch your weight but still store visceral fat. 

How much you have depends on your genes, your lifestyle and how active you are.

Partha’s RX on how to get rid of belly fat:

  1. My go-to prescription as always is Exercise 30 Minutes daily! Moderate activity will slow down visceral fat gain but vigorous exercise can trim it off.
  2. Watch What You Eat. Focus on complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Chose lean protein and limit added sugar and saturated fat.
  3. Watch Your Portion Size. Calories can easily add up. Try to split your meal when eating out. 
  4. Try Strength Training with Weights. It can also fight abdominal fat.

The BMI measurement is simple and has limitations as it only calculates body fat based on weight and height.  Scanning of the abdominal tissue better identifies the location and type of body fat. 

These are important factors to know when assessing heart disease risk.