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What is Central Obesity?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Obesity is a condition in which a person is considered to have an unhealthy amount of body fat. When this excessive amount of body fat builds up in the abdominal section of the body, rather than accumulating in the lower body or being evenly distributed throughout the body, it is referred to as central obesity. This category of obesity tends to be the most dangerous form because disproportionate amounts of abdominal fat are thought to contribute to a variety of health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

The primary system that is used by most medical professionals to diagnose a person with central obesity is his or her waist circumference. If a woman’s waist measures more than 35 inches (88 centimeters) around, she will generally be considered to have central obesity. For a man to receive this diagnosis, his waist will typically have to measure more than 40 inches (102 centimeters) around. The main reason for the discrepancy between genders is that the female hormone estrogen tends to result in women carrying their weight more in the lower body, whereas men may be more likely to carry excess weight around their midsections. The condition may also be diagnosed by measuring waist circumference and dividing it by hip circumference; if the difference is 0.85 in women or 0.90 in men, the person is usually considered to have the condition.

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Central obesity is usually caused by a person consuming more calories than he or she uses for energy. This may be the result of a poor diet that is low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein; eating portion sizes that are too large; or a lack of physical exercise. Less commonly, certain other health conditions, such as Cushing's syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome, may also result in the body producing excessive amounts of body fat and storing it in the abdominal area.

Even reducing the amount of body fat by five percent may lead to weight loss. People with the condition may be put under a doctor’s supervision when embarking on a weight loss plan. A doctor may help a patient learn to change his or her eating habits, such as eliminating processed foods, sugar, fast food, or high-calorie beverages, and start eating smaller portions and a healthier variety of foods. Physical exercise will typically be recommended for a serious weight loss program, but to prevent injury, a doctor will usually have a patient start out with minor activity and gradually increase the amount. If diet and exercise are not effective for reducing body fat, medication may be used to suppress the appetite or surgery may be performed to reduce the size of the stomach and prevent large amounts of food from being consumed.

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