Couch Potatoes Threatened by 'Visceral' Fat

This type of fat lying around organs is especially unhealthy, experts warn

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 14, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Its official: a new study finds that being a couch potato can help pack on unwanted fat, specifically the dangerous "visceral" fat that can build up around internal organs.

Experts warn that visceral fat shows strong links to insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and other metabolic problems.

"We believe that these results shine a clear spotlight on the high costs Americans are paying for their continued inactivity. I don't believe that people in general have gotten lazier -- it's more that they are working too hard or are at their desks working on computers with fewer opportunities for exercise. The situation is out of balance," lead researcher Cris Slentz, of Duke University Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

The study of 175 sedentary, overweight men and women also found that a moderate exercise program can help prevent the accumulation of visceral fat.

"In our study, the control group that did not exercise saw a sizable and significant 8.6 percent increase in visceral fat in only six months," Slentz said.

"We also found that a modest exercise program equivalent to a brisk 30-minute walk six times a week can prevent accumulation of visceral fat, while even more exercise can actually reverse the amount of visceral fat," Slentz said.

Study participants exercising at the highest level -- the equivalent of 17 miles of jogging per week -- had a 6.9 decrease in visceral fat. The actual exercising was done on treadmills, elliptical trainers or cycle ergometers.

The findings appear in the October issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about exercise.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Sept. 14, 2005

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