Excercise can help you in the fight against internal, visceral fat that you cannot see or feel, but can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and inflammation, suggests a study.
In the study, researchers analysed two types of interventions -- lifestyle modification (exercise) and pharmacological (medicine) -- to learn how best to defeat fight deep abdominal belly fat. They found the reductions were more significant per pound of body weight lost with exercise.
"Visceral fat can affect local organs or the entire body system. Systemically it can affect your heart and liver, as well as abdominal organs," said Ian J. Neeland, Assistant Professor at the UT Southwestern Medical Centre.
For the study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the researchers evaluated changes in visceral fat in 3,602 participants over a six-month period measured by a CT or MRI exam.
"When studies use weight or body mass index as a metric, we don't know if the interventions are reducing fat everywhere in the body, or just near the surface," Neeland said.
"The location and type of fat is important. If you just measure weight or BMI, you can underestimate the benefit to your health of losing weight. Exercise can actually melt visceral fat."
Neeland noted researchers previously thought of fat as inert storage, but over the years this view evolved and fat is now seen as an active organ.
"Some people who are obese get heart disease, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome - and others don't.
"Our study suggests that a combination of approaches can help lower visceral fat and potentially prevent these diseases," Neeland added.