Nav: Home

The dangers of hidden fat: Exercise is your best defense against deep abdominal fat

February 01, 2019

DALLAS - Feb. 1, 2019 - Scientists know that the type of fat you can measure with a tape isn't the most dangerous. But what is the most effective way to fight internal, visceral fat that you cannot see or feel? The answer: exercise.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center analyzed two types of interventions - lifestyle modification (exercise) and pharmacological (medicine) - to learn how best to defeat fat lying deep in the belly. The study is published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

"Visceral fat can affect local organs or the entire body system. Systemically it can affect your heart and liver, as well as abdominal organs," said senior author and cardiologist Dr. Ian J. Neeland, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine. "When studies use weight or body mass index as a metric, we don't know if the interventions are reducing fat everywhere in the body, or just near the surface."

To find out, the researchers evaluated changes in visceral fat in 3,602 participants over a 6-month period measured by a CT or MRI exam. Both exercise and medicines resulted in less visceral fat, but the reductions were more significant per pound of body weight lost with exercise.

"The location and type of fat is important. If you just measure weight or BMI, you can underestimate the benefit to your health of losing weight," said Dr. Neeland, a Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care. "Exercise can actually melt visceral fat."

Participants in exercise trials were 65 percent female, with a mean age of 54 and mean BMI at enrollment of 31. Exercise regimens were monitored, not self-reported. The majority of exercise trials were performed in the U.S. and Canada, while pharmacologic trials included the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Japan, and four multinational cohorts.

The medications used by study participants were FDA approved or in the FDA approval pipeline.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects nearly 40 percent of adult Americans. Dr. Neeland said researchers previously thought of fat as inert storage, but over the years this view evolved and fat is now seen as an active organ. "Some people who are obese get heart disease, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome - and others don't," Dr. Neeland said. "Our study suggests that a combination of approaches can help lower visceral fat and potentially prevent these diseases."
-end-
Other UT Southwestern researchers who contributed to this work include Dr. Shreya Rao, cardiology fellow; Dr. Ambarish Pandey, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine; Dr. Bryan Park, internal medicine resident; Helen Mayo, Faculty Associate; Dr. Dharam Kumbhani, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine; and Dr. James A. de Lemos, Professor of Internal Medicine. Dr. de Lemos holds the Sweetheart Ball-Kern Wildenthal, M.D., Ph.D., Distinguished Chair in Cardiology.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,500 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients, nearly 370,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 3 million outpatient visits a year.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Related Visceral Fat Articles:

Visceral fat delivers signal to the brain that hurts cognition
Excessive weight around our middle gives our brain's resident immune cells heavy exposure to a signal that turns them against us, setting in motion a crescendo of inflammation that damages cognition, scientists say.
Gene network helps to turn white fat into beneficial calorie-burning fat
1.9 billion people in the world are overweight. Of these, 650 million people are obese, which increases the risk of secondary diseases such as cancer.
New species of parasite is identified in fatal case of visceral leishmaniasis
Phylogenomic analysis shows that pathogen isolated in Brazilian hospital does not belong to the genus Leishmania.
Emerging parasitic disease mimics the symptoms of visceral leishmaniasis in people
A new study suggests that transmission of a protozoan parasite from insects may also cause leishmaniasis-like symptoms in people.
How visceral leishmaniasis spread through central-Southern Brazil
The protozoan disease visceral leishmaniasis (VL) has recently expanded to places where it had not previously been reported and has expanded its geographic distribution within countries where it was already endemic.
Researchers compare visceral leishmaniasis diagnostic tests
Accurate and timely diagnosis of the tropic disease visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is one of the pillars for reducing VL deaths.
Reducing delays in identifying visceral leishmaniasis
Women in Indian states with endemic visceral leishmaniasis -- also known as Kala Azar -- should be encouraged to seek care for persistent fever without delay.
Celebrity fat shaming has ripple effects on women's implicit anti-fat attitudes
Comparing 20 instances of celebrity fat-shaming with women's implicit attitudes about weight before and after the event, psychologists from McGill University found that instances of celebrity fat-shaming were associated with an increase in women's implicit negative weight-related attitudes.
The dangers of hidden fat: Exercise is your best defense against deep abdominal fat
Researchers analyzed two types of interventions -- lifestyle modification (exercise) and pharmacological (medicine) -- to learn how best to defeat fat lying deep in the belly.
New study on obesity: We inherit the dangerous fat from Dad -- and the good fat from Mom
Brown fat cells burn off a lot of calories, whereas an excess of white fat cells make us overweight and ill.
More Visceral Fat News and Visceral Fat Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.