Visceral fat, also known as abdominal or ‘belly’ fat, is fat that develops around your mid-section, surrounding vital organs like your liver and pancreas. It’s different to subcutaneous fat, which you can pinch with your hands.
In healthy amounts, subcutaneous fat has several important functions – it insulates and regulates the temperature of your body, for example. Belly fat, by contrast, promotes long-lasting inflammation, which can increase your risk of chronic diseases.
How to lose belly fat: 22 effective tips
Fat cells don’t simply store energy, they also produce hormones and secrete inflammatory substances into the body. For this reason, having high levels of any type of body fat is bad for your health – but this type of belly fat is the most villainous.
‘Whether you’re overweight or not, carrying more visceral fat around your stomach can increase your risk of health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart and circulatory problems, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea,’ Dr Wild explains.