Check Up: His tummy is getting too big

January 17, 2018

Dear Readers,

Wayne is a 56-year-old gentleman who writes Check Up with concern for his growing 'tummy' size.

His doctor says that no swelling or growth is causing the problem, so how can he stop gaining weight on his tummy?

The well-used phrase 'middle-age spread' is for real! The human body changes shape naturally with ageing, and some of these changes are difficult to avoid without choosing and practising healthy living options.

After age 30, the body begins to lose lean tissues and will naturally increase the ratio of fat present. Bones also become less dense and more fragile.

With ageing, fat tissues build towards the centre of the body, which includes around the internal organs, so extra pounds tend to deposit around the middle section.

The tendency to become shorter with ageing also occurs in all races, and people lose on average about one centimetre every 10 years after reaching age 40. This leads to an even fatter look for the midsection.

All these changes can be prevented by eating a proper, well-balanced diet, exercising regularly with both aerobics and weight training, and remaining generally physically active.

Men will tend to gain weight until about age 55, then will begin to lose weight later on in life. The weight loss is thought to be due to a decline in male hormone (testosterone).

As ageing occurs and testosterone levels fall, lean muscle is replaced with fat, which weighs less. Abdominal obesity in men is also associated with low testosterone levels.

Testosterone itself increases thigh muscle size and reduces subcutaneous fat in all areas, while oestrogen in women causes fat to be stored in the buttocks, thighs and hips.

With ageing and menopause, fat migrates to the belly.

As the waistline grows, so do the health risks experienced, as increasing girth is a strong marker for several chronic diseases.

This is much more so when the fat is deposited deeply around the abdominal organs rather than superficially, which gives rise to the fat handles.

Nevertheless, increased girth with superficial fat is a good guide to what is taking place also around the organs, which is known as visceral fat.

Visceral fat is strongly associated with diabetes mellitus type 2, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, and heart disease.

In women it is also linked with increased incidence of breast cancer and gall bladder disease (gall stones).




The really good news is that the deep visceral fat is very susceptible to a proper, maintained diet and regular exercise!

The superficial fat which causes the fat handles can be more difficult to move, but is not such a health risk. It will also move with persistence with a balanced diet and increased exercise.

It's also a very good idea for men to cut back on alcoholic intake, as several studies have shown that alcohol consumption is directly associated with increased waist circumference and with a higher risk of abdominal obesity in men, but not in women.

Abdominal obesity exists in men where the waist measurement is greater than 40 inches and in women with a waist measurement greater than 35 inches.

A permanent routine of exercise and healthy eating with decreasing caloric consumption is what is needed. Self -motivation is the key!

- Get regular exercise.

- Eat fruits, whole grains, and vegetables.

- Limit alcohol use.

Write Lifeline: PO Box 1731: KGN 8 Email AJM

Other Lifestyle Stories