The Causes of Your Belly Fat

woman pinching her stomach
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Belly fat is the accumulation of abdominal fat that results in increased waist size. It is also known as central adiposity or abdominal obesity. Many people have a problem with too much belly fat, and a variety of factors can cause you to get a bigger midsection. People often put on more belly fat when we become middle-aged, after pregnancy, or when they eat or drink too much. They don't call it a beer belly for nothing. But no matter what the cause, a bulging belly is something we all want to eliminate.


One of the most common causes of belly fat is simply eating too much and moving too little. Over time, we often become more sedentary. We spend less time walking, taking the stairs and exercising. When we eat more calories than we burn each day, an energy imbalance causes weight gain. But there are other causes of belly fat, too.

As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down, and total body fat gradually increases. Women tend to gain a higher fat percentage than men as they get older. Body fat distribution changes in menopause, which causes more fat to be directed to your abdomen.

Heredity can also be a factor. You might be genetically predisposed to gain weight in your middle more than other parts of your body. Hormones and hormonal changes, as well as stress, can also affect belly fat accumulation.

How to Measure Belly Fat

Measuring your waist circumference is a simple way to tell if you are carrying too much abdominal fat.

Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches may have a higher disease risk. Talk to your doctor about your waist circumference and ask about corresponding risks at your next appointment.

Why Is Belly Fat a Problem?

If you carry too much fat around your waist, you are more likely to develop health problems than if you carry fat mainly in your hips and thighs. Belly fat can significantly increase your chances of developing a number of serious health issues, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Gallbladder problems
  • High blood pressure

Understanding the importance of belly fat and the risks associated with a bigger midsection may help you to start a program to get rid of your belly fat.

How to Get Rid of Belly Fat

There are several different ways to get rid of belly fat. Start by talking to your doctor to make sure that you are healthy enough for exercise.

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Article Sources

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  • Centers for Disease Control. Healthy Weight: Assessing Your.../Waist Circumference. 4 Jan 2011.
  • Fahey, Thomas D. et al. Fit and Well for Life. 7th Edition. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 2007.
  • National Institutes of Health. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: The Evidence Report. 1998; NIH Publication No. 98-4083.