Belly fat is the most dangerous, but losing it from anywhere helps



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We can’t target certain areas for weight loss, but losing it from anywhere is good.
from http://www.shutterstock.com

Evelyn Parr, Australian Catholic University

Excess storage of fat is linked to many different chronic diseases. But some areas of fat storage on the body are worse than others.

In general, women have greater absolute body fat percentages than men. Typically, women carry more fat around the legs, hip and buttocks, as well as the chest and upper arms. Women have more subcutaneous fat – the fat you can pinch under your skin – while men typically have more visceral fat, which is stored in and around the abdominal organs.

People who have greater fat stores around their butt and thigh (glutealfemoral) regions are at lower risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, than those with greater fat stores around their middle.




Read more:
Explainer: overweight, obese, BMI – what does it all mean?


Why is belly fat more dangerous?

Excess fat around the tummy is subcutaneous fat – which you can pinch – as well as visceral fat, which is in and around the organs in the abdominal cavity and only visible using medical scans. Researchers have found excess visceral fat storage is a significant risk factor for metabolic health complications of obesity such as type 2 diabetes, fatty liver and heart disease.

The fat around the organs is a different kind of fat.
from http://www.shutterstock.com

Fat cells in a healthy person are able to grow, recruit inflammatory cells to help reduce inflammation, and remodel themselves in order to allow for healthy body growth. But if there is excess fat tissue, these mechanisms don’t function as well. And with excess fat, the body can become resistant to the hormone insulin – which maintains our blood sugar levels.

Visceral (belly) fat secretes greater levels of adipokines – chemicals that trigger inflammation – and releases more fatty acids into the bloodstream. Whereas the fat cells in the leg region, and the pinchable, subcutaneous layers of fat around the middle, store fatty acids within themselves, rather than pushing them into the circulation.

The fat around the hips and legs is more passive, meaning it releases fewer chemicals into the body.




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Just try to lose fat, anywhere

A recent weight-loss study that looked at where fat mass was lost found the area of fat loss didn’t change the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The important thing was losing fat from anywhere.
While diet and exercise are unable to specifically target regions of fat depots, fat mass loss from anywhere can improve risk factors.

Online ads might tell you a magic workout machine will reduce fat in one particular area, but adipose tissue is unable to be targeted in the same way that we can target a specific muscle group.

Total loss of fat mass, through a healthy diet and exercise, is the best outcome for overall health and reducing either the symptoms of chronic disease (such as diabetes) or the risk of developing disease such as diabetes or heart disease.The Conversation

Evelyn Parr, Research Fellow in Exercise Metabolism and Nutrition, Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Ten habits of people who lose weight and keep it off



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Before you go for seconds after your meal, have a glass of water and wait five minutes before checking in with your hunger again.
from http://www.shutterstock.com

Dr. Gina Cleo, Bond University

Most people who diet will regain 50% of the lost weight in the first year after losing it. Much of the rest will regain it in the following three years.

Most people inherently know that keeping a healthy weight boils down to three things: eating healthy, eating less, and being active. But actually doing that can be tough.

We make more than 200 food decisions a day, and most of these appear to be automatic or habitual, which means we unconsciously eat without reflection, deliberation or any sense of awareness of what or how much food we select and consume. So often habitual behaviours override our best intentions.

A new study has found the key to staying a healthy weight is to reinforce healthy habits.




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Thinking you’re ‘on a diet’ is half the problem – here’s how to be a mindful eater


What the new study found

Imagine each time a person goes home in the evening, they eat a snack. When they first eat the snack, a mental link is formed between the context (getting home) and their response to that context (eating a snack). Every time they subsequently snack in response to getting home, this link strengthens, to the point that getting home prompts them to eat a snack automatically. This is how a habit forms.

New research has found weight-loss interventions that are founded on habit-change, (forming new habits or breaking old habits) may be effective at helping people lose weight and keep it off.

We recruited 75 volunteers from the community (aged 18-75) with excess weight or obesity and randomised them into three groups. One program promoted breaking old habits, one promoted forming new habits, and one group was a control (no intervention).

The habit-breaking group was sent a text message with a different task to perform every day. These tasks were focused on breaking usual routines and included things such as “drive a different way to work today”, “listen to a new genre of music” or “write a short story”.

The habit-forming group was asked to follow a program that focused on forming habits centred around healthy lifestyle changes. The group was encouraged to incorporate ten healthy tips into their daily routine, so they became second-nature.

If you start to snack each day when you get home from work, you’ll form a habit that requires you to do so in that context every day.
from http://www.shutterstock.com

Unlike usual weight-loss programs, these interventions did not prescribe specific diet plans or exercise regimes, they simply aimed to change small daily habits.




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After 12 weeks, the habit-forming and habit-breaking participants had lost an average of 3.1kg. More importantly, after 12 months of no intervention and no contact, they had lost another 2.1kg on average.

Some 67% of participants reduced their total body weight by over 5%, decreasing their overall risk for developing type two diabetes and heart disease. As well as losing weight, most participants also increased their fruit and vegetable intake and improved their mental health.

Habit-based interventions have the potential to change how we think about weight management and, importantly, how we behave.

Ten healthy habits you should form

The habits in the habit-forming group, developed by Weight Concern (a UK charity) were:

  1. keep to a meal routine: eat at roughly the same times each day. People who succeed at long term weight loss tend to have a regular meal rhythm (avoidance of snacking and nibbling). A consistent diet regimen across the week and year also predicts subsequent long-term weight loss maintenance

  2. go for healthy fats: choose to eat healthy fats from nuts, avocado and oily fish instead of fast food. Trans-fats are linked to an increased risk of heart-disease

  3. walk off the weight: aim for 10,000 steps a day. Take the stairs and get off one tram stop earlier to ensure you’re getting your heart rate up every day

  4. pack healthy snacks when you go out: swap crisps and biscuits for fresh fruit

  5. always look at the labels: check the fat, sugar and salt content on food labels

  6. caution with your portions: use smaller plates, and drink a glass of water and wait five minutes then check in with your hunger before going back for seconds

  7. break up sitting time: decreasing sedentary time and increasing activity is linked to substantial health benefits. Time spent sedentary is related to excess weight and obesity, independent of physical activity level

  8. think about your drinks: choose water and limit fruit juice to one small glass per day

  9. focus on your food: slow down and eat while sitting at the table, not on the go. Internal cues regulating food intake (hunger/fullness signals) may not be as effective while distracted

  10. always aim for five serves of vegetables a day, whether fresh, frozen or tinned: fruit and vegetables have high nutritional quality and low energy density. Eating the recommended amount produces health benefits, including reduction in the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease.


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The Conversation



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Dr. Gina Cleo, Research Fellow, Bond University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

We asked five experts: is BMI a good way to tell if my weight is healthy?



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BMI takes into account your height and your weight, and that’s it.
from http://www.shutterstock.com

Alexandra Hansen, The Conversation

Staying a healthy weight can be a challenge, and knowing what weight is healthy for you can be too. Most people rely on the body mass index, or BMI, which is a measure of our weight in relation to our height.

Many experts have criticised this fairly limited measure of the health of our weight, yet it still remains the most popular way for most people to judge a healthy weight.

We asked five experts if the BMI is a good indicator of a healthy weight.

Five out of five experts said no

Here are their detailed responses:

https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/274/b8093fc9b60eedc7c3a36feca9e1ee0a8d581308/site/index.html


If you have a “yes or no” health question you’d like posed to Five Experts, email your suggestion to: alexandra.hansen@theconversation.edu.au


The ConversationDisclosures: Emma Gearon has received an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.

Alexandra Hansen, Health + Medicine Section Editor/Global Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Health Check: should you weigh yourself regularly?



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Men respond better to structured “weigh-ins” than women.
Rostislav_Sedlacek/Shutterstock

Clare Collins, University of Newcastle and Rebecca Williams, University of Newcastle

For some, jumping on the scales is a daily or weekly ritual; while others haven’t seen a set of scales for years. Some may still be scarred by memories of being weighed in public with results broadcast to all.

So, is it helpful to weigh yourself? And if so, how often should you do it?

For adults carrying excess weight and who are trying to manage their weight, the answer is yes: weighing yourself regularly can help you lose more weight initially, and keep it off.




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But for adolescents or those who have experienced disordered eating, it’s best to keep the scales out of sight.

What does the research say?

Most studies have investigated the impact of self-weighing along with other weight-loss strategies such as a low-kilojoule diet.

These studies show self-weighing is an inexpensive technique that may help with weight loss and maintenance, particularly for men, who often respond well to structured “weigh-ins”.

Only one study has investigated the use of self-weighing as the sole weight-loss strategy. This US research study invited 162 adults who were wanting to lose weight to a single educational weight-loss seminar.

Half of the people were instructed to weigh themselves daily and got visual feedback on their weight change over two years. The other half were not asked to weigh themselves daily, until the second year.

Keeping track of your weight can help you avoid gradual weight creep.
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During year one, men in the daily self-weighing group lost more weight than the control group, but women did not. The average number of times people weighed themselves a week was four.

In the second year, men in the daily self-weighing group maintained their weight loss. Those in the control group, who had now started daily weighing, lost weight, while the women stayed the same.

Having regular weigh-ins with a health professional can also help. A review of more than 11,000 overweight people attending a weight management program in GP clinics in Israel found those who had regular weigh-ins with the nurse or dietitian were more likely to lose more than 5% of their body weight. This amount of weight loss is associated with a major reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

How often should you weigh yourself?

A review of 24 randomised controlled trials found there was no difference in weight loss between those who weighed themselves daily versus weekly.

No matter what other features the weight-loss program includes, the key to better results appears to be regular self-weighing, which means at least weekly.

Making yourself “accountable” for weigh-ins either by having a set day to weigh-in or joining a weight loss program can help you lose more weight.

Another important point is that not weighing yourself regularly when you are on a weight-loss diet is a risk factor for weight gain.




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You don’t have to be the biggest loser to achieve weight loss success


When is self-weighing harmful?

Regular weighing is not recommended for adolescents. Research suggests it doesn’t help with weight management and can negatively impact on young people’s mental health, especially for girls.

A ten-year study of the relationship between self-weighing, weight status and psychological outcomes of almost 2,000 teens in the US found that self-weighing had no helpful impact on weight or BMI.

However, it was associated with weight concerns, poor self-esteem and trying to lose weight though unhealthy methods such as excessive fasting.

Over the ten years, more frequent weighing was associated with a decrease in body satisfaction and self-esteem, and an increase in weight concerns and depression in the young women.

Self-weighing has few benefits and many potential harms for teens.
Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock

For young men, with the exception of weight concerns, there were no significant relationships between self-weighing and other variables.

An increased frequency of self-weighing throughout the high school years may flag the need to investigate an adolescent’s overall well-being and psychological health.

Self-weighing can also affect the self-esteem and psychological well-being of adults, especially women. This is of particular concern for those with eating disorders, as weighing frequency can be associated with greater severity of eating disorders.

For some people, self-weighing could be the key to losing or keeping weight off, while for others, it may do harm. Consider your life stage, pre-existing health conditions and your mental well-being when deciding whether regular weighing is worth it for you.


The Conversation


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Clare Collins, Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle and Rebecca Williams, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Newcastle

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.