Ask the doctor: Why is visceral fat a problem?

Q. My doctor says I may have too much visceral fat. Why is this a problem and what can I do about it?

A. Visceral fat (sometimes called abdominal fat) is fat that accumulates in our abdomen, padding the spaces between our abdominal organs. Unlike the fat just beneath the skin—the kind we can grab with our hands, called subcutaneous fat—visceral fat seems to be more harmful to our health. It is linked to insulin resistance, which may lead to type 2 diabetes, and to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. In women, it is also associated with a higher risk of breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.

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