Nobody—except maybe pregnant women and Santa Claus wannabes—likes an overgenerous belly. But not only is having an apple shape a drag on your self-esteem, it can also set off a whole host of health problems. The more fat you have in your abdomen—so-called visceral fat—the greater your risk for
heart disease, diabetes and breast and other cancers.
Because of where it is, it’s hard to know how much visceral fat you have. One tip-off that you’re lugging around too much: your waist circumference. The larger your waist, the more you have. “Getting that waist under control is the first step in controlling the harmful effects of visceral fat,” says Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, chairman and founder of The Cooper Institute in Dallas. Even if you’re only carrying an extra 20 or 30 pounds, if you carry it around your waist, slimming down will still lower your health risks.
Forget spot-toning: The only way to zap belly fat is to lose weight all over. Need help? Try these "Flat Belly Secrets."