Study: Belly fat puts women at higher risk than men for diabetes

6 days ago

Sept. 9 (UPI) — Evidence continues to mount showing belly fat surrounding organs and around intestines contributes greatly to cardiovascular risk and diabetes, a new study says.

Just an extra kilogram of visceral fat can raise a women’s risk for type 2 diabetes by more than seven times, according to research published Monday in Nature Medicine.

That same fat accumulation gives men twice the risk for type 2 diabetes. Deep belly fat also causes more heart attacks, high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia.

“To measure the amount of visceral fat, advanced and costly diagnostic imaging techniques are required,” Torgny Karlsson, a researcher at Uppsala University and study co-lead author, said in a news release. “We have developed a simple method which instead estimates an individual’s amount of deep belly fat from other parameters, more easily measured than the visceral fat itself, and the method can, therefore, be used in most clinics.”

For the study, the researchers examined data on visceral fat in 325,000 people who participated in the UK Biobank cohort, as well as looking at genes that affect fat that gathers in the belly.

In all, they found more than 200 distinct genes influence belly fat, many of which were tied to how much or how little a person eats or exercises. This discovery hints at those genes making a substantial contribution to abdominal obesity.

The researchers also observed people with small or medium amounts of deep belly fat have the biggest jump in cardiovascular risk and diabetes compared to those who already have a lot of abdominal fat.

Previous studies have suggested that higher belly fat in postmenopausal women may lead to a higher risk of heart disease, and others have shown a link to early death.

“The findings of this study may enable us to simplify measurements of visceral fat, and thus more easily identify people at high risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Karlsson said.

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