New Delhi: Visceral or "belly fat" stored within the abdominal cavity can do more harm to health than subcutaneous fat (fatty tissue lying directly under the skin), says an expert.
Belly fat can cause conditions such as diabetes mellitus and heart disease and is associated with abnormal lipid profiles and insulin resistance.
"As many as 30 percent of people who come to us for weight loss are unaware of underlying medical conditions such as hypertension, hypothyroid, diabetes, hyperinsulinemia and arthritis, which need immediate medical attention," said Vandana Luthra, founder of VLCC, an Indian wellness brand, on the occasion of Anti-Obesity Day that falls on November 26.
Given that it is "hidden", visceral fat is difficult to measure using traditional methods and is, therefore, rampant in Indians as compared to their western counterparts.
A recent study by Annaswamy Raji, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, showed that Indians have significantly more total abdominal and visceral fat for any given body mass index (BMI) as compared with Caucasians.
VLCC conducted a study on more than 1.5 lakh people to find that its clients had high visceral fat levels with an average of 14 instead of a high normal of 10.
This significantly increases their risk of cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep apnea and certain cancers.
"Even a reduction of five percent to 10 percent of body weight can result in a reduction of 10 percent to 30 percent of abdominal fat," VLCC added in a statement.
VLCC initiated "Anti-Obesity Day" in 2001 to create awareness about obesity - a public health hazard which was spreading globally.