Why We Need to Say Bye-Bye to Belly Fat

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Why We Need to Say Bye-Bye to Belly Fat

With the alarming statistics of one in three Americans suffering from obesity and another thirty- three percent being unhealthily overweight, generally speaking, we as a nation have become fat.

Clinically, obesity is defined in several ways: as a significantly higher than average proportion of body fat; as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) value greater than 30; or as weighing more than 20 percent over average weight according to statistical tables such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Height-Weight guidelines. “Morbid Obesity” is when a person weighs 50 to 100 percent or 100 pounds above ideal weight. If your ideal weight is 150 and you weight 200 lbs, this is referred to as morbid obesity.

“Central Obesity” better known simply as “Belly Fat” is defined as the fat around your abdomen and waist. Belly Fat comes in two forms:
1. Subcutaneous fat: the layer of fat tissue just below the skin.

2. Visceral fat: lives deeply within the abdomen and in and around major organs such as the heart, liver and stomach.

Health authorities now cite obesity as one of the most serious health problems facing our country. Being seriously overweight for any period of time poses a direct threat to your health. In addition, obesity is now known to significantly increase your risk of many other serious chronic and degenerative health challenges including:

Cardiovascular Disease
Fatty Liver
Gall Bladder Dysfunction
Heart Disease
High Blood Pressure / Hypertension
High Cholesterol
Hypothalamic Dysfunction
Insulin Resistance
Joint Pain
Liver Dysfunction
Metabolic Syndrome
Sleep Apnea
Sleep-disordered Breathing

Consider these statistics: 85 percent of all cases of adult-onset (Type II) diabetes are directly related to obesity, as are 45 percent of all cases of high blood pressure, 35 percent of all cases of heart disease, and nearly 20 percent of all cases of dangerously elevated high cholesterol. Finally, obesity without any other health complications causes the premature deaths of 300,000 Americans each year.

Calculate Your Body Mass Index (BMI)

To more accurately calculate whether you are excessively overweight, find your body mass index (BMI). BMI is the ratio of your height to your weight. A high BMI is an indicator of not only excess body fat but also of obesity-related health problems, especially chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. The higher the BMI, the higher the health risks.

Note: If you are pregnant, a bodybuilder, a competitive athlete, a child, or a frail elderly person, the BMI is not useful as the index is based on statistical averages, not body size exceptions.

Causes of Obesity and Unhealthy Weight Gain

The most common perception about obesity is that it is due to overeating and lack of exercise. While both of these factors are indeed important factors to consider, other equally important factors can also cause unhealthy weight gain. They include: 
• Dieting: “yo-yo diets”

Food allergies: Food allergies often go undiagnosed among patients who are overweight and obese, yet they can be a primary reason why people struggle with their weight. Food allergies contribute to weight gain and obesity in a number of ways:

     Causing food cravings that in some cases are addictive
     o Causing water retention in the body, adding to a person’s overall weight
     o Creating feelings of depression which can lead to overeating as a way to bury emotional issues

Hereditary and social factors: Hereditary factors such as genes and biochemical individuality can play significant roles in a person’s tendency to become obese, for instance, children who are obese and overweight often have parents and grandparents who were as well. But hereditary predisposition for unhealthy weight gain can also be influenced by social factors, such as:

     o Eating overly large meals without a comparable amount of exercise to burn calories
     o Habitually eating fast, processed foods high in unhealthy fats and low in nutritional value

Insulin imbalance: Many people suffer from obesity because of imbalances of the hormone insulin. Insulin is essential for help the body make use of glucose, the body’s primary fuel, as well as carbohydrates. In a state of health, insulin levels rise after each meal so that insulin can transport glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. Once this is accomplished, insulin is cleared from the bloodstream until it is needed after the next meal. If the body is unable to clear insulin, due to insulin imbalances, a condition known as glucose intolerance can occur. This, in turn, can make a person feel hungry even after he or she has just eaten, adding to his or her unhealthy weight gain. Over time, as more weight is gained, this vicious cycle becomes worse and worse, eventually to the point where the body becomes unable to respond to insulin as it attempts to do its job. As a result, the body, to little or no avail, leaving the cells deprived of the glucose they need to create proper energy levels, often produces greater and greater amounts of insulin. This explains why people who are overweight or obese are also usually chronically tired. Compounding the problem, since the insulin is unable to convert glucose to energy, the glucose ends up being stored into the body’s fat cells, creating a higher percentage of body fat. Left unchecked, this can lead to adult-onset (type II diabetes). When insulin imbalances occur, the body’s ability to metabolize glucose and carbohydrates becomes impaired. Insulin imbalances can also lead to increased salt and water retention, sleep disorders caused by insulin interference with the brain’s neurotransmitters, increased production of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, impaired thyroid function and a resultant sluggish metabolism, high blood sugar, and further food cravings, especially for simple carbohydrates, which can cause insulin imbalances in the first place.

Lifestyle factors: A sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise are the two biggest lifestyle factors that contribute to unhealthy weight gain.

Metabolic disorders (the rate at which the body uses energy) such as impaired thyroid function, psychological factors, and toxins, impaired thermogenesis. Thermogenesis refers to the process by which the body produces energy in the form of heat above a person’s resting metabolic rate. It is one of the mechanisms the body uses to turn calories into energy. When thermogenesis becomes impaired, instead of being burned up, calories start to accumulate in the body as fat, even during times of dieting and exercise. One of the main causes of impaired thermogenesis is chronic dieting, which, over time, can cause a lower rate of thermogenesis and a corresponding increase in feelings of hunger.

Other Obesity Risks Factors May Also Include:

Chemical Processing in Foods (such as: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the artificial sweeteners aspartame (aspartic acid)

Psychological Factors: Overeating due to a tendency to eat in response to unresolved emotional issues, such as anger, anxiety, boredom, and grief, or to fill an emotional void due to feelings of not being loved or appreciated.

Toxins and Toxic Burden: Toxins, both from foods in the form of chemical additives, and from environmental pollutants in our air, water, and soil supplies, are a primary cause of obesity and weight gain, as well as most chronic, degenerative disease condition.

If you are overweight or obese, see a medical doctor and/or an alternative health practitioner to arrange a thorough examination to determine if there are any undiagnosed medical causes for your condition, such as food allergies, insulin imbalances or low thyroid function and other metabolic disturbances. In order for successful weight loss to occur and be maintained, each of these factors must be examined closely and, if found to be a contributing cause, properly addressed.

Leigh Edwards is a health educator, former pharmaceutical consultant, and author. To read more about holistic health and wellness, please visit:

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