A paunch is a walking body alarm bell

The next two weeks will not just be dotted with mornings of hangovers but also of distending stomachs. The festive period is when people throw caution to the wind and eat with a merry tune.

The next two weeks will not just be dotted with mornings of hangovers but also of distending stomachs. The festive period is when people throw caution to the wind and eat with a merry tune.

Unfortunately, too much fat deposits are consumed during this period in various forms of foodstuff. The end result, for many, is the beginning of a life burdened with health complications. Not least, the paunch, popularly known as potbelly.

A potbelly is an enlarged, swollen or protruding abdomen. It can be caused by several things such as weak abdominal musculature, digestive problems, constipation and poor posture.

Potbellies can be daunting in as much as they give some men pride. But, in medical scope, it is unhealthy because it is a form of obesity where fats are deposited around the abdomen.

“It is easy getting a belly but hard to get rid of it, say that it takes three to six months to get rid of,  If you take too much of fatty foods and your physical activity is less fat get accumulated in your belly,” says Moses Agaba, an instructor at Go Fit Health Club in Nyabugogo, Kigali.

Dr David Nsiime says a hormonal disorder such as Cushing’s syndrome, which is caused by too much exposure  to high levels of cortical, also leads to central obesity.

Besides, with age, a fall in sex hormones also causes men and women to develop a paunch.

Dr Kamukama says like all muscles, the ab muscles are also isolated from the fat tissues.    

“The size and firmness of the ab muscles don’t affect the fat that lies on them, but weak ab muscles may bulge outward, giving the appearance of a pot belly. He says a potbelly comes due to various body complications such as weak abdominal musculature, digestive problems and more so posture.

Most people eat foods without understanding the amount of calories they take in. Alcohol, too, can increase appetite, just like they are known to offset paunch.

Heredity plays fundamental role in how easily people’s bellies enlarge. You may be genetically predisposed to pile on kilos on your upper body (stomach) or lower body (hips, buttocks and legs).

Your waist-to-hip ratio and the absolute waist circumference determine the severity of central obesity. Scientists maintain that our bodies weren’t ever equipped to handle the calorie-heavy, over processed foods that are commonplace today.

According to Dr Michael Jensen, an endocrine expert and obesity researcher with the Mayo Clinic, in general, potbelly is sometimes caused by alcohol intake which is associated with bigger waists, because when you drink alcohol, the liver burns alcohol instead of the fats

“A typical beer has 150 calories, and if you down several in one sitting, you can end up with serious calorie overload. When you take in more calories than you burn, the excess calories are stored as fat. Where your body stores the fat is determined in part by your age, sex, and hormones,” Dr Jensen says.

Culturally, those sporting potbellies were considered wealthy, comfortable, powerful, and satisfied in life. Such beliefs discourage many from taking corrective measures such as physical exercise that help cut beer belly.

However, whole grains have been shown to generally reduce weight gain. A recent study carried out by Professor Penny Kris-Etherton and her team from Pennsylvania State University, published in 2008, showed that participants who ate whole grains lost more weight from the abdominal area than another group that ate the same diet, but with all refined grains.

Adolescents start out with similar fat storage patterns, but puberty changes that. Women have more subcutaneous fat (the kind under the skin) than men, so those extra fat calories tend to be deposited in their arms, thighs, and buttocks, as well as their bellies.

Because men have less subcutaneous fat, they store more in their bellies.

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