Abdominal girth measurements matter beyond aesthetics. If there is accumulated fat in this area of the body, this becomes a cardiovascular risk factor. To know the value, pass a meter around the waist at the level of the navel.
What is the limit that should not be exceeded in the abdominal circumference? The World Health Organization ( WHO ) establishes that, in the case of women, the measure should not exceed 88 centimeters, while for men, the cap amounts to 102 centimeters.
The risks of having a larger than normal abdominal circumference
The cardiovascular risk alert comes on when there is obesity. Meanwhile, it is greater if the abdominal circumference exceeds the measures considered healthy since it denotes an increase in circulatory problems.
If the extra kilos are distributed in different parts of the body, there is a real danger of heart disease. But this increases when the abdominal area accumulates more fat than other body regions. This is because the intra-abdominal fatty tissue contains cells, called adipocytes, that produce a certain amount of hormones with metabolic value.
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Such adipocytes work by releasing free fatty acids, which are metabolized by the liver, which uses them for energy instead of glucose. Consequently, the sugar not used by the liver remains in the body and increases its level. This process causes blood lipids to rise and blood glucose to skyrocket.
Seen this way, it is understood why a bulky abdomen is a problem much more than aesthetic since it can lead to metabolic syndrome. It is characterized by an increase in bad cholesterol and triglycerides, a decrease in good cholesterol, an increase in blood pressure, and hyperglycemia.
How to take measurements correctly
A meter and some tips are necessary to take measurements of the abdominal circumference. Doctors often do this measurement as a routine checkup. They also do it when they notice an increase in body mass index (BMI) that indicates possible obesity or overweight.
To take the abdominal circumference measurements correctly, you must stand with your arms at your sides. Then loosen the belt, if you are wearing it. You must also remove the shirt or garment covering the torso to measure the skin and at the level of the navel.
The tape measure or meter should be located below the rib cage and above the top of the hip bone. The abdomen should be relaxed. It is convenient to exhale before passing the meter and, after making the measurement, write down the figures immediately so as not to lose your information.
Types of obesity according to abdominal circumference
There are two types of obesity, depending on the location of excess fat. One is peripheral obesity; it is spoken of when the adiposity is located in the thighs, buttocks, or hip. The other is central obesity, which is located almost exclusively at the level of the abdominal circumference.
When a person is centrally obese, they are at twice the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, it should be noted that excess fat is always harmful, regardless of where it is located.
When there is more abdominal or visceral fat, it is called android or apple-shaped obesity. In contrast, the obesity produced by the accumulation in arms, legs, and hip is called gynoid or, also, pear shape.
Very important organs are located in the abdominal circumference area: the liver, stomach, spleen, and gallbladder. These are the ones who suffer the activity of this localized fat. In women’s cases, the hormonal changes of menopause help to mark changes in their body structure.
What to do if my abdominal circumference is greater than normal?
To avoid the increase of fat in the abdominal circumference, it is convenient to lead a healthy lifestyle. Aerobic exercises combined with other strength exercises are advised. The former contributes to calorie expenditure and the latter tone muscles and improve body posture.
Eating a healthy diet, free of saturated fat and simple sugars, helps control weight. Also, this type of diet is beneficial for the heart. Hydration is an important factor since it helps to prevent fluid retention. Getting a good rest relieves stress and improves hormonal function.
The body posture is no minor issue. It is not convenient to sit for many hours with the spine curved. This position favors the relaxation of the abdominal muscles and the consequent accumulation of fat in the area. Finally, it is essential to do a medical checkup, at least once a year, where the abdominal circumference will be measured to certify that it is reduced.