| Here’s how you might have fat that you don’t know about

Have you ever met someone who eats junk food and doesn’t exercise but never seems to put on any weight? You might call them lucky, but be aware that skinny doesn’t necessarily equal healthy.

It is well known that obesity puts you at risk of health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, various cancers, and cholesterol. But not everyone knows  that you don’t need to be overweight to be susceptible to serious health conditions. 

In fact, statistics have shown that skinny people who have diabetes actually have a higher mortality rate than their overweight counterparts.

This is a dangerous situation because people who are not overweight often neglect their health. They think that because they appear healthy on the outside, everything’s fine… There is however a thing called visceral fat.

What is visceral fat?

Visceral fat is the body fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity around a number of important internal organs, including the heart, liver, pancreas and intestines.

Storing higher than normal amounts of visceral fat is associated with increased risks of a number of health issues.

Research has shown that visceral fat produces more proinflamatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-60), and less adiponectin (a protein involved in regulating glucose levels and regulating the breakdown of fatty acids). This, in turn, induces insulin resistance.

How to reduce visceral fat

There are measures you can take to reduce visceral fat:

  • Cut out all trans fats (found in processed foods) from your diet.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Do resistance/strength training to build muscle. This is more effective at preventing age-related increases in belly fat than cardio exercises.
  • Do high intensity interval training.
  • Keep cortisol levels under control. (If your cortisol levels are high, it makes losing weight much more difficult.)

Image credit: iStock

NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Student who claims she looks like a ‘melting candle’ is determined to get rid of excess skin

A morbidly obese student who dropped half her bodyweight claims her 31 kg worth of excess skin resembles a “melting candle”.

Jessica Bell, from Newcastle in England, weighed 196 kg and ate an entire loaf of bread every day before opting for weight loss surgery.

“I was eating a loaf of white bread every when I was at my biggest, I’ve cut it out of my diet completely now,” says Jessica.

After being fitted with a gastric balloon and sleeve – an operation to restrict the food intake her tummy can hold – Jessica lost an incredible 95 kg.

But with her drastic weight loss came excess skin, and she now feels like a “melting candle” every time she looks in the mirror.

The 26-year-old is currently saving for her third operation as her medical aid doesn’t cover cosmetic surgeries.

“I’m currently a student so I can’t afford to have it removed – and although I had two procedures through the NHS, they can’t cover this one as it’s cosmetic,” she says.

The healthcare student’s skin hangs from her stomach arms and legs, which makes her feel incredibly self-conscious.

Jessica first started gaining weight when she was just 13 and it spiralled out of control back in 2010 when she reached her peak weight.

“I had always been a bigger child because I comfort ate. My grandparents died at a young age and I didn’t know how to cope with it, so I comfort ate.

“That just carried on through my teens and early twenties, I used to eat to take the pain away, but then would feel guilty so started to guilt eat.

“I never grew out of my habits, when I was younger I used to hide food or secretly eat when I went out with friends,” she admits. “And when I got older I would have more freedom to eat whatever I wanted.

But the student was too obese for weight-loss surgery and was given strict instruction by doctors to slim down.

Thankfully, she took their concerns seriously and dropped 15 kg before her first weight-loss surgery in October 2014.

“Thanks to my stomach shrinking, and just eating side-plate portion sizes, I was able to lose a further eight stone (50 kg).”

Despite losing all that weight, Jessica is still striving to slim down even more, to feel comfortable in her own skin.

“I want to be able to dress like a 26-year-old student should be able to dress, but instead even when I went away I was wearing a massive cover-up t-shirt and shorts, to hide my excess skin.

“I know that I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I don’t feel as skinny as I should. Instead, I feel uncomfortable – both physically due to chaffing and mentally,” she says.

Source: Magazine Feature