Everyone has trouble spots — those patches of weight that are hard to conceal and harder to get rid of.
But experts say that certain types of fat, in certain areas of the body, may be more damaging to health than others.
“We have shown that the cells from belly fat versus butt fat are like different flavors — they’re really different kinds of fat,” explains Susan K. Fried, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai whose research focuses on fat storage.
Here’s what those bulges can mean for your heart, metabolism and more.
Extra weight around the midsection is more likely to be visceral fat, which surrounds the body’s inner organs, than subcutaneous fat, which lies immediately under the skin. That means belly fat will likely “increase inflammation in the body, leading to Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, to name a few [health issues],” says Dr. Kristen Gill Hairston, medical director of the Diabetes and Endocrinology Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Fried suggests lying down to tell what type of fat you carry around your waist. “If you lie on your back, and your fat doesn’t stick up, it’s probably just under the skin,” or subcutaneous, she says. “If it sort of sticks up and looks like you’re pregnant, then it’s likely visceral.”
Love handles and other flabby areas are more likely to be subcutaneous fat, which carries less of a risk to your health, says Hairston. Still, those extra pounds can lead to issues such as osteoarthritis and sleep apnea, she cautions.