What is visceral body fat?
Visceral fat, also known as “hidden” fat, accumulates deep in the abdomen and surrounds organs such as the liver and intestines. It makes up one-tenth of all body fat.
Most fat is stored under the skin and is called subcutaneous fat. This is visible and palpable fat. The rest of the body fat is hidden. This is visceral fat.
Visceral fat can make the intestines protrude or give a heavy “apple” shape. It also produces harmful chemicals and hormones in the body.
Visceral fat is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat because it produces more toxic substances. Even in thin people, visceral fat carries a variety of health risks.
Visceral fat is more common in men.
What causes visceral fat?
When you consume too many calories and do too little physical activity, fat accumulates. Some people are genetically predisposed to store fat in their abdomen rather than their hips.
For women, fat storage changes with age. Especially after menopause, women lose muscle mass and gain fat. Women tend to have more belly fat as they age, even if they don’t gain weight.
In men, age and genetics play a role in the development of visceral fat. Alcohol consumption increases belly fat in men.
What are the health risks of visceral fat?
Visceral fat in the abdomen is a symptom of metabolic syndrome, a collection of disorders including high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance. Together, these increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.