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  1. Why Do I Have a Belly Button? (for Kids) - KidsHealth
  2. Abdominal obesity
  3. Join the Discussion
  4. 8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life

It's appropriate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health.

Why Do I Have a Belly Button? (for Kids) - KidsHealth

Although scientists are still deciphering the roles of individual hormones, it's becoming clear that excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, disrupts the normal balance and functioning of these hormones. Scientists are also learning that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Core Better Binder Pregnancy Belly Support Belt

These and other biochemicals are thought to have deleterious effects on cells' sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting. One reason excess visceral fat is so harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids.

Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL bad cholesterol, lower HDL good cholesterol, and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that your body's muscle and liver cells don't respond adequately to normal levels of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that carries glucose into the body's cells. Glucose levels in the blood rise, heightening the risk for diabetes.

Abdominal obesity

Now for the good news. So what can we do about tubby tummies? A lot, it turns out. The starting point for bringing weight under control, in general, and combating abdominal fat, in particular, is regular moderate-intensity physical activity — at least 30 minutes per day and perhaps up to 60 minutes per day to control weight and lose belly fat.

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Strength training exercising with weights may also help fight abdominal fat. Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles, but it won't get at visceral fat. Diet is also important. Pay attention to portion size, and emphasize complex carbohydrates fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and lean protein over simple carbohydrates such as white bread, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks.

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Replacing saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats can also help. Scientists hope to develop drug treatments that target abdominal fat. For now, experts stress that lifestyle, especially exercise, is the very best way to fight visceral fat. Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content.

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  6. Please note the date of last review on all articles. By Erin Palinski-Wade. Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is considered the most harmful form of fat in your body. This type of fat has been linked with everything from insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes to an increased risk for certain cancers.

    8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life

    In general, you need to work on reducing the fat all over your body, especially in your midsection, to decrease your risk of obesity-related diseases and disorders. Triglycerides: This type of fat circulates in your bloodstream. It makes up about 95 percent of the fat within your body. Visceral fat: Otherwise known as the dangerous belly fat, visceral fat is the kind located deep within your belly.

    Visceral fat hangs beneath the muscles in your stomach. This placement is what makes the fat so damaging to your health.


    Because this fat is so close to your internal organs, it becomes their best energy source. Think about it this way: If you could buy food from the corner store or the store clear across town, which would you pick?

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    The nearby corner store, of course!