‘Dadbod’ worse than being fat all over scientists find

Fat carried round the middle of an otherwise average-sized body is more dangerous than being fat all over, an American study as shown.

Saturday, 14th November 2015, 5:00 am
Study data showed that those carrying a spare tyre could be in for more health problems in later life - Image Pikul Noorod/Shutterstock

The survey results should worry anyone with a ‘dadbod’ - a term which entered the popular parlance earlier this year and describes a man previously active and in shape, but now carrying extra weight around their middle.

The term ‘dadbod’ gained traction online after a blog post from US college student Mackenzie Pearson went viral. In the post, Pearson claims the dadbod signals: “I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.”

But those carrying a ‘spare tyre’ could be in for more health problems in later life than people considered fat all over. The discovery was made by scientists who analysed data on 15,184 American men and women with an average age of 45.

Over a period of 14 years, normal-weight individuals with bulging middles had a worse survival record than participants officially classified as overweight or obese.

Men in this category were twice as likely to die than others defined as overweight or obese by their body mass index (BMI), which relates weight and height.

For women, the effect of having a spare tyre was less pronounced but still increased the risk of death by up to 40%.

The US scientists led by Dr Francisco Lopez-Jiminez, from the Mayo Clinic, wrote in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine: “Our analyses .. show that normal-weight US adults with central obesity have the worst long-term survival compared with participants with normal fat distribution, regardless of BMI category, even after adjustment for potential mediators.

“Our findings suggest that persons with normal-weight central obesity may represent an important target population for lifestyle modification and other preventive strategies.”

The kind of obesity known as a ‘spare tyre’ or a ‘beer belly’ is associated by health professionals with the accumulation of “visceral” fat around internal organs - something known to be harmful to health.

Excess visceral fat is associated with insulin resistance - which can lead to diabetes - higher levels of cholesterol and blood fats, and inflammation.

Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Keeping physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet will help control your weight and reduce your risk of diabetes and heart and circulatory diseases. If you’re concerned about your weight or need further support, make an appointment to see your GP or practice nurse.”

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