Dr. Amit Khera, who directs the University of Texas Southwestern program in preventive cardiology, says belly fat, or waist circumference, is more closely associated than other distributions of fat with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease.
However, how one gets rid of the fat seems to matter in terms of reducing these risks.
"Diet and exercise certainly can reduce abdominal fat and reduce heart disease risk, as can surgical procedures like gastric bypass, which limits caloric intake," Khera said in a statement.
"Interestingly, studies looking at liposuction do not seem to show the same benefits. Fat reduction by liposuction does not seem to reduce a protein in the blood called C-reactive protein, which is a measure of inflammation and heart disease risk."
This may be because liposuction targets the subcutaneous, or outer, layer of belly fat but does not reduce the visceral fat that surrounds the intestines and abdominal structures, which is more closely associated with risks for heart disease, Khera says.
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