Meta-analysis suggests that following a healthy diet can lower the risk of central (abdominal) obesity
04/02/2019 // Janine Acero // Views

A healthy diet can do wonders for your body in a lot of ways. So it isn't the least bit surprising that it could also help prevent obesity.

Central obesity is a particularly dangerous type of obesity, where excessive fat accumulates in the abdominal area or belly. It is a pivotal component of metabolic syndrome. Researchers from Iran summarized available data regarding the association of a posteriori dietary patterns and central obesity in adults to determine whether a healthy dietary pattern is linked to a reduced risk of central obesity. This study is a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrition Research.

For this meta-analysis, the researchers pored over related studies from MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Google Scholar databases and identified 13 studies, which included 12 cross-sectional studies and one case-control study that reported odds ratios (ORs), relative risks, or hazard ratios for risk of central obesity.

The researchers assessed between-study variance using Cochran Q test and I2. Using subgroup analysis, they determined possible sources of heterogeneity.

The researchers found that the highest category of healthy or prudent dietary patterns resulted in a significant decrease in the risk of central obesity, with an OR of 0.81 (95 percent confidence interval 0.66-0.96). Conversely, their findings showed a higher non-significant increase in the risk of central obesity in the highest category of Western or unhealthy dietary pattern, with an OR of 1.16 (95 percent confidence interval 0.96-1.35).


The researchers also determined that sex, country, and continent were potential sources of heterogeneity.

Based on these findings, the researchers reported that a posteriori healthy dietary pattern may reduce the risk of central obesity, but that there was no significant link between unhealthy dietary patterns and central obesity.

Science-backed ways to lose belly fat

Unwanted belly fat doesn't just look bad – it's really bad news for your health. Excessive belly fat has been associated with dreaded health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Belly fat is usually determined by measuring the circumference around your waist. Anything above 102 cm (40 in.) in men and 88 cm (35 in.) in women is known as central or abdominal obesity.

Take control of your health now and start shedding that belly fat with some evidence-based methods:

  1. Avoid refined sugar. Added sugar has been shown to have harmful effects on metabolic health. Your liver processes sugar to be used as energy, but when it gets overloaded with fructose, it turns it all into fat, which then builds up in the liver and belly. This leads to insulin resistance and a host of metabolic conditions. Lose your belly fat by cutting down your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, sugary sodas, fruit juices and sports drinks.
  2. Eat more protein. Protein is an important component of weight loss goals. Studies show that it reduces cravings by 60 percent, boosts metabolism by 80-100 calories per day, and helps you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day. Add more protein to your diet with high-protein foods such as whole eggs, fish, seafood, legumes, meat and dairy products. If you're a vegan or vegetarian, you can obtain protein from beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, spirulina, soy milk, and hempseed, to name a few. You can also obtain protein through supplements, such as whey protein.
  3. Reduce carbs. Studies have now shown that low-carb diets lead to two to three times more weight loss than low-fat diets. Other studies have shown that low-carb diets specifically target the fat in the belly, and around the organs and liver. Cut down on refined carbs (sugar, candy, white bread, etc.) while keeping your protein intake high.
  4. Eat fiber-rich foods. Soluble fiber, in particular, has been linked to a 3.7 percent reduction in abdominal fat. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber, as well as legumes and some cereals such as whole oats.
  5. Get moving. Exercise is a great method for losing fat and keeping your body healthy overall. However, specific types of exercise are needed for particular fitness goals. In the case of belly fat, aerobic exercise – such as walking, running and swimming – has been shown to effectively reduce unwanted fat in the abdominal area.

Learn more about the many ways to combat obesity at

Sources include: 1 2

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