1. Fats Under The Breastbone
Bad – Affects the heart
Some people naturally store excess calories as fat under the breastbone and around the heart. “That’s bad from a mechanical point of view, but studies have shown that fat can also be deposited inside the heart cells,” says Prof Bell. This leads to a greater risk of heart disease.
2. Fats Around Your Organs
Bad – Increases your risk of contracting Alzheimer’s
This is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s – and you don’t have to look overweight to carry it. Visceral fat smothers your organs and sends metabolic signals that increase fat sent into your bloodstream. A local study suggests this may explain why Chinese people are most susceptible to the three conditions, even though they are leaner compared with Malays and Indians. Chinese folks may have a low threshold for fat storage, says the study’s lead investigator Associate Professor Tai E Shyong.
3. Fats In The Liver
Bad – Triggers the development of type 2 diabetes
As you accumulate visceral fat, it seeps into your liver, where it can be disastrous. “There’s a strong link between the fat in your liver and the development of type 2 diabetes,” says Prof Bell. “It causes your liver to overproduce glucose. The fat sends out signals similar to those produced by an infection or injury. “These may make you lethargic and less likely to exercise – creating a vicious circle.”
4. Fats Near Your Chest
Bad – Affects your breathing
Fat is not deposited in your lungs, but it can affect them. “Excess tissue in the chest compresses the lungs. And if your neck is fat, the airways in your throat narrow and obstruct breathing,” says Professor Stephen Spiro, deputy chairman of the British Lung Foundation. “If you snore, feel sleepy when you’re driving or are always tired at work, see your GP.”
5. Fats In Your Blood
Bad – Blocks your arteries
Eat too much hydrogenated fat (think animal fats, pastry and fries) and you increase the fatty globules that circulate in your blood (cholesterol and triglycerides). While these are essential to every cell in the body, when there are too many, they build up on the walls of your arteries, forming a substance called plaque. This slows blood flow to your ticker, increasing your risk of heart ailments.
6. Fats Around The Collarbone
Beneficial – May help fight obesity
Most flab in your body is known as white fat, which stores energy. But there are also a few grams of brown fat, usually located on your back or around the collarbone, which actually burns energy. “It’s thermogenic, which means it produces heat,” says Prof Bell. This mechanism is carried by infants to keep them warm, which researchers now think can be used to fight obesity. When you exercise in cold weather, you stimulate brown fat, which uses the energy stored in white fat for fuel. This has been estimated to burn up to 500kcal a day.
7. Fats Which Are “Beige”
Beneficial – Burns calories
The calorie-burning tissue, found in adults, is the third type of fat to be identified. It’s produced from white fat depots when triggered by specific conditions such as exercise and cold, sharing some characteristics of its brown counterpart. Namely, it burns itself. When you exercise, your muscles send your fat cells a signal, which triggers them to create heat. “This is why exercise is better than dieting when it comes to reducing your body fat,” says Prof Bell.
8. Fats That Make You Overweight
Bad – Affects your erections
Excess fat can lower your testosterone and slow the blood supply to the penis. But research in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that when overweight men lost 5 to 10 per cent of their fat, their sex drive increased and erectile function improved. It’s win-win.
9. Fats Around Your Belly
Subcutaneous fat – that’s the natural layer beneath the skin – is “health-neutral”. It accumulates in many places around the body, although men tend to gather it around the belly. Annoyingly, this is the most stubborn fat of all to shift. But as long as you don’t have so much that it’s slowing you down, it’s not a major health risk.