Visceral fat is distinguishable from subcutaneous fat – the type of fat you can pinch in two important ways. The first is in its positioning. Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat is found near vital organs, including the liver, stomach and intestine. The second distinction, which is linked to the first, is that you are much more likely to kill him.
The positioning of visceral fat means that it can eventually interfere with the body's vital processes, thereby increasing the risk of complications such as heart disease.
Like all forms of treatment, the success of efforts to reduce visceral fat depends on the identification of the underlying cause and its associations.
The problem is that attempts to understand what drives and underlies weight gain are often reductive, often focusing on isolated factors, such as eating an unhealthy diet and leading a sedentary lifestyle.
The danger of narrowing the focus is that researchers often miss a crucial piece of the puzzle.
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How did Powell and his colleagues reach this verdict?
The study included 409 middle-aged women, about half African-American and half Caucasian, who were participating in the Women on the South Side (WISH) Health Project in Chicago, a longitudinal study of the transition from menopause.
Depressive symptoms were assessed using a common screening test and visceral fat measured with a CT scan.
Although waist size is often used as a proxy for the amount of visceral fat, it is an inaccurate measure as it includes subcutaneous fat or fat deposited just under the skin.
The researchers found a strong correlation between depression and visceral fat, especially among overweight and obese women.
The results were the same, even when the analysis adjusted to other variables that could explain the accumulation of visceral fat, such as the level of physical activity.
The study found no association between depressive symptoms and subcutaneous fat. The results were the same for black and white women.
Powell speculated that depression triggers the accumulation of visceral fat through certain chemical changes in the body – such as the production of cortisol and inflammatory compounds – but said more research is needed to identify the exact mechanism.
In light of the results of the study, it is reasonable to infer that the coping mechanisms of depression can also reduce visceral fat.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Obesity confirmed this hypothesis.
In a small study group of 47 overweight or obese women, practitioners of mindfulness mediation exercises observed a reduction in belly fat.
"Mindfulness meditation involves sitting in silence and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, breath sensations or parts of the body, bringing your attention back whenever the mind starts to wander," according to the NHS.
Researchers in the study suggest that meditation exercise improved participants' moods and changed their eating habits, which may be responsible for the loss of belly fat.