Even modest exercise can reduce negative effects of belly fat
Posted Jun 12 2009 4:29pm
Posted by Neill Abayon
URBANA – A new University of Illinois study suggests that moderate amounts of exercise alone can reduce the inflammation in visceral fat—belly fat, if you will—that has been linked with metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that predict heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
"In the study, the benefits of exercise were apparent, even without a change in diet. We saw improvements in insulin sensitivity, less fat in the liver, and less inflammation in belly fat," said Jeffrey Woods, a U of I professor of kinesiology and community health and faculty member in the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences and the Integrative Immunology and Behavior Program.
Belly fat is particularly dangerous because it produces inflammatory molecules that enter the bloodstream and increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, he said.
"Scientists now know that obesity is associated with a low-grade systemic inflammation. Obese people have higher levels of circulating inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), which are produced and secreted by fat tissue. This inflammation then triggers the systemic diseases linked with metabolic syndrome, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease," he said.
In the study, Woods and his colleagues examined the effects of diet and exercise on the inflammation of visceral fat tissue in mice. A high-fat diet was first used to induce obesity in the animals. After 6 weeks, mice were assigned to either a sedentary group, an exercise group, a low-fat diet group, or a group that combined a low-fat diet with exercise for 6 or 12 weeks so the scientists could compare the effects in both the short and long term.