Pot belly and its harms-
Pot belly, variously called beer belly, central obesity or truncal obesity, has assumed a new significance because it is has a strong co-relation with the causation of cardiovascular and other diseases. Beer belly albeit a misnomer still continues to be in usage. This body type is also known as "apple shaped", as opposed to "pear shaped", in which fat is deposited on the hips and buttocks.
The absolute waist circumference of >102 centimeters or 40 inches in men and >88 centimetersor 35 inches in women and thewaist to hip ratio of less than 0.9 for men and less than 0.85 for women are both used as measures of central obesity. The persons, having waist circumference more than above, are likely to suffer from many diseases like- Diabetes, High blood pressure, Metabolic Syndrome, Heart Diseases, Insulin resistance, some types of cancer and Sleep apnea.
Many people from every socioeconomic stratum also sport big belly. Even persons from the police and military forces have bellies, which only points out that these are unfit. So it is an opportune time to introduce measures to keep our police force medically fit.
Some common reasons for pot belly are-
- Genetics- There are two common body types - apple and pear. If you gain and store fat in lower parts of your body then you would be considered pear-shaped. If you’re the kind of person that stores more fat in your stomach and middle section than anywhere else then you would be considered apple-shaped. If a person puts on weight, he or she will deposit excess weight according to the genetic make-up.
- Slow metabolism- As we get older, our metabolism tends to slow down. That means you don’t burn calories as fast or as easily as you did when you were younger. A slower metabolism can also result in extra storage of fat particularly around the middle.
- Stress- Chronic stress produces excess of hormone cortisol, which can lead to obesity. This straight away goes to the stomach.
- Eating late at night- If you want to control your stomach fat, you should never eat within three hours of your bedtime. You want your food to have a chance to fully digest before you retire for the evening.
- Menopause- After menopause occurs in women, fat begins storing itself in different places and often times focuses around the tummy.
- Lack of exercise and improper diet- the number one cause of excess stomach fat is improper diet and lack of exercise. We all need to be mindful of that no matter what size we are.
- Other reasons- Some people can have a pot belly, for various reasons such as weak abdominal muscles, digestive disorders, constipation and poor posture.
- Lack of sleep- A good quality sleep of 7 to 8 hours daily is a must. Sleep deficit is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin and increased body mass index (BMI).
How to reduce the belly-
First of all, it is worth mentioning that belly fat can not be reduced by spot reduction. Any amount of abdominal exercises and other methods at spot reduction will ultimately fail. They may only help to tone up the abdomen. To reduce belly fat, one has to reduce fat from all over the body by means of exercise and diet control.
- Eating a healthy diet from the three major groups of foods - carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Including whole grains, vegetables and fruits will go a long way. Limit the consumption of saturated fat and consume mainly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Say big no to fast food. One should remember that in order to reduce weight, one has to consume fewer calories either by eating less or burn more by exercising or by both. Diet control without exercise is likely to fail in achieving the desired goal of weight loss. Without creating a negative balance of calories, there will be no weight loss.
- Apart from eating healthy, one has to take up a regular exercise progarmme including aerobics (walking, jogging cycling etc.) most days of the week for at least 30 minutes, strengthening exercises using weights or body weight at least three days a week for 20 to 30 minutes and stretching exercises twice week for 20 to 30 minutes. The exercise schedule has to be consistent. One must start an exercise program under the guidance of an expert.
It is noteworthy that a program of weight reduction has to be customized for each person according to the age, sex, presence of an illness and the goal of weight reduction. Therefore, a person who undertakes a program of weight loss has to be under the guidance of a weight management and fitness expert.
Article By: Dr.Pran Rangan