Belly fat

Tomatoes

We all have some fat underneath our skin — especially in the hips, thighs, butt, and arms. But the fat that makes the biggest difference to your health sits right at your waistline.

Dangers of belly fat

woman measuring self with tapeBelly fat, also called visceral fat, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke. In women, belly fat may increase colorectal cancer risk.

Belly fat is also linked to dementia and impaired memory function. A Kaiser Permanente studyA service of the Kaiser Permanente News Center. Please review the privacy policy and terms of use as they differ from those of this site.  showed that people with larger bellies in their 40s had a greater risk for dementia when they reached their 70s.

Strengthen your belly

Sit-ups and other core-strengthening exercises such as yoga and Pilates will tighten your abdominal muscles, but they won't get rid of belly fat.

The secret to a slimmer waistline is overall weight loss through healthy eating and regular exercise.

The best types of exercise for losing belly fat include:

• aerobic activities that raise your heart rate
• resistance training that builds muscle to boost your metabolism and help you burn more fat

Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight through healthy eating and exercise can improve your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, and put you on the road to better health.

 Reviewed by: Adam Tsai, MD, November 2018