Too much of anybody fat is bad for your health, but compared to the subcutaneous fat, visceral is much more likely to increase your risk for serious medical conditions such as Heart disease, Alzheimer's, Type 2 Diabetes, stroke, high cholesterol, and certain types of cancer.
Researchers suspect that visceral fat makes more of certain proteins that inflame your body’s tissues and organs and narrow your blood vessels. That can make your blood pressure go up and cause other problems.
. . . is the fat stored within the abdominal cavity. It wraps around your vital organs including the liver, pancreas and intestines, and as a result, can have a negative impact on your health. You can’t see or feel visceral fat, but it poses the most serious risk to our health.
. . . is the fat stored under the skin. It is the soft tissue that can be felt when we pinch ourselves. It contains blood vessels and fatty tissues. Visceral fat, on the other hand, cannot be felt in such a way as it is the extra fat stored around our organs. It is the most dangerous type of fat as it much harder to identify.
I’ve got a flat tummy, so surely I can’t be at risk?
You can’t feel or see visceral fat, so even people with a flat tummy may still have high levels of visceral fat. Regardless of your shape or size, you could be carrying excess visceral fat which poses a risk to your health.
This means that whether your doctor tells you that you’re underweight, overweight, obese or of a healthy weight, or whatever BMI range you fall in to, you could still have high health risk caused by visceral fat.
But what about BMI?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is used by many as an indicator of health. It compares your weight into your height to give an indication of your weight status i.e. whether you are categorised as underweight, overweight, healthy or obese.
BMI doesn’t take muscle mass, age, sex, ethnicity, the general level of fitness or visceral fat into account. Therefore, even if you have a ‘healthy’ BMI you may still be carrying excess visceral fat and could still be at risk of the health complications associated with it.
Relying on BMI could put you at risk…
Visceral fat is often referred to as ‘active fat’ due to the effect it has on our hormones and body functions. It can interrupt normal hormone communications between your vital organs and can lead to insulin resistance and eventually Type 2 Diabetes.
Additionally, it can affect the functions of your organs and puts you at higher risk of developing heart disease or cancers including breast cancer or colorectal cancer.
More recently, obesity has been recognised as increasing the risk of having more severe symptoms from COVID-19 1.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/26/obesity-increases-risk-of-covid-19-death-by-48-study-finds
So how do you measure visceral fat?
In recent years there hasn’t been a way to find out how much visceral fat is hidden in your body without using expensive imaging tests, such as an MRI or DEXA scanning equipment.
Unfortunately, most people cannot access these scanners to understand their health risk due to cost, availability and hospital referral requirements
So, what can you do to protect yourself?
Factors which contribute to visceral fat levels include stress, diet and exercise habits in addition to age, ethnicity and gender. Living a healthy lifestyle will therefore reduce your chances of visceral fat accumulating in your abdominal cavity.
But . . . first and foremost you need to understand the volume of fat you have and where it is!
Now after 12 years of research and validation, a quick, new and easy way to measure your body composition and visceral fat is the Body Volume Index app. The myBVI app just uses your smartphone; taking a scan so that within a few seconds your results will appear. BVI is an advancement in monitoring body composition at the click of a button; without the need for any other device!