• By deedeejstiepan

Mayo Clinic Minute: Why excess belly fat is a health risk for women

September 27, 2019

Having excess belly fat could put postmenopausal women at risk of serious health conditions. Dr. Ekta Kapoor with Mayo Clinic's Center for Women's Health explains why even normal-weight women should pay attention to their waist measurement.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (0:59) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please "Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

It's common for women to put on weight as they age, especially around the midsection. That dreaded so-called belly fat can come with some serious health risks.

Dr. Kapoor says those risks can include high blood pressure, diabetes and ultimately heart disease. "We're learning that it also increases the risk of certain cancers like breast cancer, colon cancer. So, yeah, it's very risky," says Dr. Kapoor.

Dr. Kapoor explains even women who have a normal body mass index, or BMI, can be at risk, which is why BMI alone doesn't tell the whole story.

"Good measurements of belly fat could be measuring waist circumference or waist-hip ratio," says Dr. Kapoor.

How can you lose excess fat and keep it from coming back? Dr. Kapoor says the key is to eat fewer calories and build muscle mass, which people lose with age.

"If you have lower muscle mass, we just burn fewer calories. And what happens when you burn fewer calories? You gain weight," says Dr. Kapoor.

Besides strength training exercises to help build and maintain muscle, it's important to eat a heart-healthy diet.

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