Central obesity is a medical condition than many men (and to a lesser extent, women) suffer from. So what is central obesity, and is it the same thing as ordinary obesity?
To define central obesity we need to look at each word individually: “Central” meaning of course the centre of the body, and obesity, which is defined by modern medicine as a person whose body fat is above 30 on the Body Mass Index, or BMI for short.
What is Central Obesity?
Therefore, central obesity is when a person’s body fat that has built up on the abdomen or chest. The “apple” body shape, round in the middle, is an example of central obesity, while the “bottom heavy” or “pear” body shapes are not considered central obesity. Central obesity is also sometimes referred to as “abdominal” or “truncal” obesity.
Even though any level of obesity is harmful to a person’s health and well-being, central obesity puts one at a much higher risk level. When an obese person has body fat centred on their abdomen or stomach, it sits much closer to their internal organs, which may result in fat accumulating in and around them. Central obesity is closely correlated to the chance of an obese person developing related illnesses and conditions such as lower back pain or diabetes. Additionally, the extra weight on their chest can sometimes cause obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
What Causes Central Obesity?
Genetics are one factor that affects a person’s likelihood of developing central obesity. There are many other causes however, and things such as gender, diet, age, and amounts of physical activity play a large role. Women are physiologically more likely to store excess fat their hips, legs and buttocks, as opposed to men who tend to acquire the large belly or gut if they become obese.
Just as with most forms of obesity however, the main cause of central obesity is how many calories a person consumes, compared to how many calories they burn. In modern times keeping this ratio in balance has become more difficult due to the abundance of highly processed food in most societies. Much of the “fast food” that is a regular inclusion in many people’s eating routine contains large levels of energy (measured in calories) because of generally high sugar and fat contents. These high levels of calories can cause central obesity if the energy is not used up by physical activity. Soft drinks or sodas in particular are a massive source of sugar. Some studies regarding children in America show that the chances of obesity in children increased 1.6 times per additional can of soda the child drank per day.
The age-old concept of reducing the calories you consume or increasing the amount of exercise you get is the most effective way to prevent central obesity. Particularly for people in the “overweight” range that might be drifting towards obesity, now is the time to take action to stop obesity in its tracks. As with all major changes in lifestyle, it’s best to consult with your doctor before taking any action.