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Belly Fat--It's About Location, Location, Location

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Weight Loss related image Photo: Getty Images

What they say about real estate also applies to abdominal fat—it’s all about the location. Where those extra pounds actually reside around your midsection is critical in knowing what to do about them.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who could stand to slim down through the abdomen—whether you’re planning a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, you’re considering liposuction or you just haven’t figured out what to do about it yet—it pays to know about the difference location makes.

The experts at Harvard Medical School explained that, in a nutshell, there’s subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. As you might guess, subcutaneous fat lies just under the skin. It’s the extra bit you can grasp with your fingers or hand—those little love handles or small tummy “pooch.”

Subcutaneous fat is also the kind that can be addressed with liposuction. If a few stubborn surface pockets of fat are all you have, you may indeed benefit from ultrasonic liposuction, laser liposuction or one of the new techniques like CoolSculpting.

If you have visceral fat instead of (or along with) subcutaneous fat, losing weight is the answer. Today there’s no safe way to surgically remove fat that surrounds and overlies internal organs.

And there’s good reason to lose the weight. In studying fat that lies inside the abdominal cavity, researchers have found that the cells are “biologically active” rather than the passive blobs they were once thought to be. They produce hormones and chemicals that influence and disrupt normal body processes. In addition, studies show that abdominal fat increases the risk of certain cancers.

Women approaching or in menopause need to be on the lookout. Not only does the proportion of fat to body weight tend to increase over the years, the way the body stores fat changes as well. According to Harvard Medical School, younger women tend to gain weight around the lower body, while middle-aged women most often see extra inches gathering around the waist, a more dangerous place for fat.

The physicians at Harvard suggest that the way to start losing visceral abdominal fat is through physical activity.

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January 1, 2011 - 11:53am
EmpowHER Guest

It's hard to face up to the health risks associated with being overweight or obese, but articles like this one are needed. There is also a connection between large waists and bowel cancer:

December 21, 2010 - 9:46am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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