WHIDBEY RECIPES: Belly fat sticks out as issue for health agencies near and far

Belly fat; if you have it, you could be in for anything from diabetes to dementia to dysfunction. You know the dysfunction I’m talking about, the dreaded ED all those TV ads go on and on about.

Belly fat is the current hot health mania, and not just in this country.

In Japan, the government has mandated that every company measure its employees’ waistlines and those who exceed the decreed 33.5 inches are to be given a deadline by which they will either lose the belly fat or their job. Can you imagine that happening here?

In case you aren’t aware, yet, of the belly fat bugaboo, the International Diabetes Federation has set guidelines for our waistlines, 39 inches for men, 34.6 inches for women. The more your belly bulge exceeds those numbers, the higher your risk for coming down with all sorts of unpleasant, downright nasty health issues. Heart trouble, diabetes, erectile dysfunction or ED, dementia, stroke, high blood pressure and I’ve no doubt they’ll come up with others as the craze continues.

From what I’ve read, belly fat could be crowding, if not smothering your internal organs, preventing them from functioning fully and properly.

Imperfectly functioning organs then lead to a breakdown in the bodily systems that keep us going, such as digestion, elimination, circulation; you name it. This is all totally aside from the fact that you’ll never again wear a bikini if you don’t ditch the belly fat, although it doesn’t seem to bother women on some European beaches I’ve visited over the years.

Nothing is ever easy, however, especially when it comes to our bodies and those who tell us what’s wrong with them. There are, it seems, two types of belly fat; subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat is that layer just beneath your skin that jiggles like jelly when you move. It’s soft and squishy when you poke a finger into it, and while it’s not pleasant and it’s definitely unwanted, it is not nearly as dangerous as the other, less obvious visceral fat.

Visceral fat lies deeper, beneath the subcutaneous stuff, and invades the space around your internal organs. It can impede kidney function, raising your cholesterol drastically, which then lead to a host of other associated troubles.

Visceral fat has recently also been associated with breast cancer and, latest news, may even be responsible for triggering a general inflammation in all the cells of your body.

Trouble is, you can’t see it so you don’t really know if you have it or not, but if your waistline goes beyond those numbers given above, chances are it’s there.

All of this bad news would explain why just in the past two or three months, I’ve received at least a dozen trial offers for diets, articles, books, pamphlets, samples of drugs, miracle programs for belly fat removal, exercise equipment guaranteed to remove belly fat and, “a belly slimming elixir that helps flush out your whole system by eliminating excess waste, sodium, and water.” How can I resist an offer like that?

One of the various offers, however, both alarmed and grossed me out. My too-active imagination took off when I was offered the golden opportunity to receive, on a free 30-day trial, a book that, among other things, would reveal to me the “five-minute trick that can help unlock the trapped air in your digestive tract.”

Nothing personal, but I don’t think I want to be around people with inordinate belly fat who have learned that trick.