Waist Circumference - What's the big deal?

by Dr. S on November 15th, 2009

The waist circumference measurement taken at the widest part of the waist, which is typically at the belly button, has become a marker for cardiometabolic risk. Why, because it measures an estimation of intra-abdominal or visceral fat. This fat accumulates under the abdominal muscles inside the abdominal cavity and surrounds the abdominal organs. Conversely, subcutaneous fat is found just beneath the skin surface and above the abdominal muscles. It's the combination of these two fat regions that make up the total waist measurement.

Before the discovery of leptin in 1994, an appetite regulating hormone secreted by fat cells, most researchers believed that fat cells (adipose tissues) were just a storage depot for extra fat and other than storage, shock absorption and body heat retention, little else was known. However, since 1994 researchers have discovered that fat cells and in particular visceral fat cells, produce a number of chemicals known as cytokines.

Cytokines have been implicated in systemic inflammation leading to insulin resistance syndrome (metabolic syndrome). Those suffering from this condition are predisposed to heart disease, adult onset diabetes, various cancers, polycystic ovarian syndrome, fatty liver disease, and kidney disease. These fat cells also produce estrogen, which could be the reason why women with increased waist measurements are predisposed to estrogen dominance and its related conditions.

Waist circumference is one of five diagnostic criteria used to assess metabolic syndrome risk. The other four are increased blood sugar, reduced HDL-cholesterol, increased blood pressure, and increased triglycerides. In order to be diagnosed with this condition, one has to have at least three of these five criteria.

The critical waist circumference measurement for females is 35 inches and 40 inches for males.

Foods that produce excessive amounts of blood sugar resulting in elevated insulin levels overtime promote the storage of visceral and subcutaneous fat, and nothing packs on abdominal fat more so than high-glycemic carbohydrates and alcohol, especially beer. Ever wonder why it's called a "beer belly?"

Learn more in The Naked Truth: Overweight, Overwhelmed and Confused.

Dr. Sardone

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with waist circumference, belly fat, adominal fat, visceral fat, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, waist measurement, Alcohol, high-glycemic carbohydrates


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