LIVING

Belly Fat Can Be More Harmful Than Obesity, Study Finds

11/10/2015 12:48 EST | Updated 11/17/2015 12:59 EST

When it comes to dangerous fat, it all depends on the location.

According to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, people with abdominal fat who were normal weight (or had normal BMIs) had a higher risk of mortality compared to those who were overweight or obese.

The report found fat found in both men and women's midsections — or belly fat — was more dangerous to health than if they had fat distributed throughout their bodies.

Researchers took a look at survey results for 15,184 adults between the ages of 18 to 90, Time reports. They looked at 14-year data and how fatal heart disease and death related to body fat.

There are two types of belly fat: visceral belly fat and subcutaneous belly fat, says integrative physician and Huffpost blogger Dr. Jade Teta.

"Subcutaneous belly fat is above the abdominal muscles and can be pinched. This is the stuff that hangs over the belt," she writes. Belly fat (fat stored around the belly), however, is said to be more harmful.

"Belly fat is stored when the combination of excess calories meets the hormonal influence of cortisol and insulin. For those of you who take a calorie-centered approach to weight loss, you may find that the fat around your belly burns off at a much slower rate."

Teta says one way to lose belly fat — although it can be a tedious process — is by replacing sugar and starch in your diet with foods high in fibre and protein. Weight training, walking and getting eight to 10 hours of sleep is critical when it comes to belly fat loss.

Of course, more research still has to be done in this area, but a report like this does allow people who are considered to have normal BMIs to see if they are at risk. Watch the video above to learn more about each type of fat.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Best Fat Burning Foods