men: excess belly fat

Cartoon aside, belly fat is more than an unsightly extra layer of padding around your middle. And its impact is far more sinister than just strained shirt buttons.

Also known as abdominal fat or visceral adipose tissue (VAT), belly fat differs from subcutaneous fat, which forms right below the skin. Belly fat develops deep inside the body where it surrounds vital organs like the liver, pancreas and intestines. There, it releases hormones and inflammatory substances that contribute to an increased risk of various health conditions as we age. People with excess belly fat, especially men over 55, face a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sleep apnea and cancer.

According to the American Heart Association, even if your body mass index falls within a healthy range, you can still be at risk from the dangers of excess belly fat. VAT can weaken or damage organs, contributing to the development of conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis. The reduced blood flow caused by fatty deposits accumulating in the arteries increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Excess visceral fat can disrupt metabolic processes that regulate blood sugar levels, leading to elevated blood glucose and insulin resistance—two precursors to type 2 diabetes.

Moreover, the inflammatory chemicals released by belly fat can promote the growth and spread of cancer cells—increasing the risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers.

Regular exercise, especially the kind that targets your core, along with a balanced diet that limits sugar and saturated fats and includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins, will help you trim belly fat.

So, lose the sugar, tighten those abs, and enjoy a longer, healthier life.

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