Excess abdominal fat on the outside is an indicator of too much visceral fat sitting on the inside - which can be seriously damaging for your health.
Risks of abdominal fat
People who carry weight around their stomachs are at more risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
Unlike people that carry weight on their thighs or bum, the proximity of a spare tyre to the body's vital organs means it can cause high cholesterol and blood pressure as well as affecting your body's sugar levels.
Belly fat has been linked to various illnesses including diabetes, dementia and cancers including uterine, colon, pancreatic, breast, kidney and ovarian cancer.
So what exactly is it?
Visceral fat isn't all bad. Everyone has it and it provides necessary cushioning to your organs, but it's when there is too much it becomes a problem.
Fat collects inside on your omentum (a fatty structure which hangs off the middle of the colon and drapes over the intestines inside the abdomen) which then distributes it around the body via the liver to the arteries.
This makes weight carried by apple shapes more harmful than the subcutaneous fat that sits on the thighs of a pear shape as subcutaneous fat doesn't feed the body's organs.
Skinny people can have too much visceral fat too as it mainly loves people that are inactive – so if you are thin but control your weight through diet alone, you may be at risk.
Research has found that normal-weight people who have what is called central obesity have an almost three times greater risk of dying from heart disease and two times greater risk of dying from any cause than those with a normal waist-to-hip ratio.
How to lose belly fat
There is no easy miracle cure or magic tablet. It takes work.
The good news is that when you go on any form of diet, the belly fat is usually the first to disappear.
We've put together a handy checklist to help you keep your tummy trim, toned and healthy:
- Try moderating your portion sizes - even a small decrease could help you shift some weight.
- Measure the amount of calories you are eating every day with a handy app like My Fitness Pal.
- Exercise WILL trim the fat. Dust of your gym shoes and aim for a vigorous workout (half an hour, four times a week) to shift the weight you have.
- Once you've begun to slim down, you can exercise at a more moderate rate - aim for 30 minutes, three times a week. This will help you keep the weight off.
- Catch up on those ZZZ's! Seven hours sleep a night will decrease stress levels, tiredness and anxiety, all of which can lead to weight gain.
Are you an apple shape? What do you do to target fat? Tweet us @handbagcom
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