Omega-3 and waist circumference


Excess body fat (obesity) is harmful for health, because it is associated with high levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol, and with increased blood sugar levels (all of them risk factors for several diseases). Methods for evaluate obesity have changed over the time, and currently it is recognized that what matters is not body weight but body fat; moreover, one type of excess fat is more damaging than the others: abdominal fat. Specifically, visceral fat (inside the abdomen).

Although the Body Mass Index (calculated from height and weight) provides a good estimate of body fat, it reflects total body fat without regard to how it is distributed; besides it has some limits: it may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build, and underestimate it in older persons and others who have lost muscle.

A very useful and simple method to evaluate abdominal obesity is to determine the waist-to-hip ratio (ratio = waist measurement / hips measurement), but many experts prefer an even simpler technique: the measurement of waist circumference. Waist circumference 102 cm or 40 inches in men and 88 cm or 35 inches in women should be a warning to avoid weight gain.

The only way to reduce visceral fat is to lose weight, and the only way to do that is to burn up more calories with exercise than we eat. Even a small weight loss (a reduction between 5% and 10%) will help lower the risk of developing diseases associated with obesity. But we also have an additional help: omega-3 fatty acids might effectively reduce waist circumference and triglyceride levels in obese adults.




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