Harvard Health Letter

Deep belly fat may weaken your bones


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Strengthen muscles to fight back.

Here's another reason to fight the battle of the bulge: fat that lies deep in the abdomen is linked not only to heart disease and diabetes, but also to bone health. "Men with increased deep belly fat, the visceral fat that surrounds our organs, have decreased bone strength," says Dr. Miriam Bredella, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

Breaking down the bulge

Subcutaneous fat, just beneath your skin, is the kind you can grab to "pinch an inch." While too much isn't good for you, subcutaneous fat does have some molecules that actually benefit health, such as adiponectin, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect on blood vessel linings and decrease the risk of insulin resistance.

The fat you can't see, called visceral fat, is beneath the abdominal wall. This type of fat secretes cytokines, which cause inflammation associated with heart disease and insulin resistance. Visceral fat is also implicated in dementia, asthma, and colorectal cancer.

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