Having spare tires i.e. hidden fat in the abdomen as well as love handles or visible flab, may worsen heart disease risk factors, a new study has found.
The study by US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute also found that the density of the stomach fat is just as important as how much fat you have. In general, the higher the fat content, the lower the attenuation, or fat density.
These adverse changes in cardiovascular risk were evident over a relatively short period of time and persisted even after accounting for changes in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, two commonly used methods to estimate whether someone is a healthy or not.
“We show that an increase in the amount of stomach fat and a lower density fat is associated with worse heart disease risk factors, even after accounting for how much weight was gained,” said Caroline Fox, who was at the US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute during the research.
“Measuring fat density is a new measure that we are still working to understand and warrants further investigation. We used it as an indirect measure of fat quality and found that lower numbers were linked to greater heart disease risk,” she said.
Increases in the amount of fat and decreases in fat density were correlated with adverse changes in heart disease risk.
Each additional pound of fat from baseline to follow up was associated with new onset high blood pressure, high triglycerides and metabolic syndrome.
Even though increases in both types of fat were linked to new and worsening cardiovascular disease risk factors, the relationship was even more pronounced for fat inside the abdominal cavity compared to fat just under the skin.
The study appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.