Men and Belly Fat: No Laughing Matter

Men and Belly FatDad bod. Beer belly. Spare tire. Men’s protruding potbellies have long had pet names and served as the butt—so to speak—of late-night jokes.       

But behind the humor, danger lurks. The health effects of extra fat in the abdomen, also called visceral fat, are serious. Men who pack more pudge around their middles have a greater risk for:

  • Heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance
  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • An early death

For Fat, Location Matters
Why does it make a difference where men’s flab collects? For one thing, fat in the abdomen is positioned closer to vital organs. Sometimes, it can be deposited directly within them.

All fat secretes hormones that can trigger health problems. But the type of fat that accumulates in the gut seems more active than the type that gathers elsewhere. For men, a waist that’s greater than 40 inches could raise health risks.

Get a Handle on Your Girth
The same tried-and-true methods that promote weight loss overall—eating better and moving more—banish belly fat, too. But paying special attention to these strategies may help slim down your midsection specifically:

  • Cut back on booze. There’s truth to one stereotype: Greater alcohol consumption may lead to a bigger gut. Limit drinking to two beverages per day if you’re age 64 or younger, and one daily drink if you’re older.
  • Sit less. In one large study, sedentary behavior was linked to larger waists. Break up time at your desk or on the couch by moving once per hour—try walk breaks around the block or office.
  • Crank up your workouts. Any physical activity can zap fat. But some research suggests high-intensity interval training works best against belly fat. These sessions alternate short bursts of hard efforts with periods of rest. If you have heart problems or a chronic disease, talk with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

Understand Your Options
If you struggle with stubborn weight around your middle, you might wonder if it’s time to consider weight-loss surgery. Whether you want to discuss procedure options or simply find out if bariatric surgery is right for you, our surgeons can help: