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Storing Fat in Your Belly Can Shorten Your Life

People who have a big belly and small hips are often already diabetic and are at high risk for sudden death from heart attacks. Sudden death caused by a heart attack kills more than 300,000 people in the United States every year, and those with the highest waist to hip ratio suffer twice the risk of sudden cardiac death compared to people with a normal ratio (British Medical Journal, published online November 19, 2014). Storing fat primarily in your belly may be a stronger predictor of sudden death than high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

When you have fat primarily in your belly, you also store fat in and around your liver. Your liver is supposed to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high. When blood sugar levels rise too high, insulin drives sugar from the bloodstream into the liver to lower high blood sugar levels.

Fat in your liver prevents your liver from accepting the sugar from your bloodstream so your blood sugar levels stay too high. Fat in your liver also causes the liver to release additional sugar into the bloodstream to raise blood sugar levels even higher. High rises in blood sugar can damage every cell in your body and cause the plaques to form in arteries.

How Can You Tell If You Are Likely to Have Fat in Your Liver?
If you can pinch more than an inch of fat under the skin on your belly, you probably have extra fat in your liver. If you can pinch more than two inches, you usually have too much fat in your liver and already have higher than normal rises in blood sugar levels after meals. If you can pinch more than two inches of fat on your belly and less than three inches of fat on your hips or buttocks, you are at high risk for a fatty liver, high blood sugar levels and diabetes. Storing fat primarily in your belly, rather than your buttocks, markedly increases risk for storing excess fat in your liver. Your doctor can order a sonogram of your liver that will tell you if you have excess fat in your liver.

Obesity Shortens Years of Healthy Living
Another study that followed 3,992 people, 20 to 79 years of age, showed that being overweight shortened the span of healthy living by as much as 19 years, and excess weight was associated with dying eight years earlier than normal-weight people (Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, December 5, 2014). The younger a person became overweight, the greater the health damage and risk of death. Men and women who were very obese in their 20s stayed free from diabetes or heart disease for 19 years less than their normal-weight peers. Losing as few as 10 pounds reduced their risk of diabetes by 60 percent.

December 14th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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