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Excess Belly Fat Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Disease - Even in Those With a Normal Weight

Abdominal obesity refers to the presence of excess fat in the abdominal area and is often called belly fat. A person can be considered to have abdominal obesity even if their BMI or weight is in a healthy range.  According to a scientific statement published recently by the American Heart Association, abdominal obesity may increase the risk of heart disease even in people with a BMI in a healthy weight range.

Abdominal obesity is determined by waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, or as the ratio of waist circumference to height. Researchers with the American Heart Association reviewed the science regarding abdominal obesity and its impact on cardiovascular health. They found that abdominal obesity may increase the risk of heart disease. This increased risk was found to also be present in people with a BMI within a healthy weight range. They also found that abdominal obesity is linked to fat accumulation around the liver.

The researchers also evaluated research pertaining to the management and treatment of abdominal obesity. They found that reducing calories can help reduce abdominal fat and that aerobic exercise is the most effective exercise for reducing abdominal fat. They found that the current recommendations of 150 minutes per week of physical activity may be sufficient for reducing abdominal fat.

The scientific statement was published online ahead of print on April 22, 2021 in the journal Circulation.

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