Your beer belly may kill you

Even if your arms, legs and butt are skinny, be concerned if you've got a pot belly

Jen Christensen | 11/11/2015, 5 p.m.
Going to your doctor may soon look more like going to your tailor. Instead of starting with a request to ...
A new study concludes that excess belly fat, even if you are skinny everywhere else, may be even more deadly than being obese or overweight. And that's saying something when you know that being obese already increases your likelihood of having a heart attack, a stroke, diabetes or even cancer. Credit: (Photo: Ferre' Dollar/CNN)

To fix it: Diet, exercise and calm

If you want to do something to flatten that tummy, you are in luck.

Having a dangerous waist-to-hip ratio is not a permanent condition. Lopez-Jimenez said researchers really don't have strong evidence yet on what exactly reduces fat in this area, but the advice he gives his patients is solid. A healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet, is a good way to go. That means you avoid processed food, eat meat sparingly, and above all, eat more plants, whole grains and nuts. On this diet you can even have a daily glass of wine.

Diet alone doesn't do it, though. If you want to burn off this kind of fat you need regular cardio. Walking for 50 minutes three times a week or 30 minutes six days a week should work, according to earlier studies. What may be even more useful is to add some kind of resistance or weight training to your routine, "anything that will help you improve your muscle mass, and not just for aesthetic reasons," said Lopez-Jimenez. "We are starting to think muscle mass may have some protective effects to prevent heart attacks and diabetes."

Stress reduction may also be a big help. Earlier studies showed people who are regularly stressed out tend to have a disproportionate amount of belly fat. You probably can't quit your job any time soon, so practice deep breathing or try an active form of relaxation such as yoga.

Combine these three -- diet, exercise and calm -- and your beer belly doesn't have to hurt you half as much.


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