There are two components to abdominal fat. Subcutaneous fat lies just below the skin, and it is the fat you can pinch with your fingers. But it is the visceral fat, the fat located behind the abdominal muscles, that is the major risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Visceral fat is associated with insulin resistance and lipoprotein metabolism (cholesterol). People with excess visceral fat have higher triglyceride levels, and lower HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels.
Waist circumference is an accurate predictor of type 2 diabetes. Visceral fat more often accompanies left venticular enlargement and hypertension than subcutaneous fat.
Luckily, there is a method for reducing visceral fat, even without losing weight. Magnetic resonance imaging studies are showing that exercise reduces visceral fat more than other types of fat.
It makes sense that the fat deposits that correlate best with lipid metabolism and insulin levels are the fat stores used up first when exercise demands energy from fat stores.
Moderate intensity exercise (40 minute walk) increases not only aerobic capacity, but increases insulin sensitivity. You no longer get short of breath, and you are less prone to diabetes related complications.
So, all you guys with beer bellies — take a hike!