When it comes to your body shape, are you apple or pear?
Which one you are could determine your risk for such things as stroke and heart disease.
If you are carrying a little, or a lot, extra around the middle, a new study said that you may be putting yourself at risk of more then just not fitting into that summer swimsuit - especially if you're a woman.
New research finds strong links between being apple-shaped - where fat is centered around the belly - including for both cardiovascular disease and Type II diabetes.
That's compared with being pear-shaped, heavier around the hips and thighs.
"Unfortunately, as we age, we lose lean mass and we gain more fat mass," said Dr. Quinn Pack with Baystate Medical Center.
Researchers at the Institute for Global Health followed 500,000 women and men ages 40 to 69 for seven years. They measured such things as body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio - that's waist circumference divided by hip circumference.
That trouble area is called visceral fat and is located in the abdominal cavity. It wraps itself around organs like the liver and pancreas.
"It is metabolically active. It affects things like lipids and blood pressure and cardiovascular risk and so the more you have around the middle, particularly around the abdomen is the riskiest kind of fat," Pack added.
Researchers found even a slight increase in visceral fat could boost the risk of a heart attack in women by 50 percent. For men, 36 percent.
"The first thing I would do is don't panic," Pack said.
Pack told Western Mass News to start by "cutting the crap:"
"Our industry is wonderful in lots of things, but what they do is they process foods and they make them, through scientific methods, taste wonderfully amazing," Pack explained.
It's simple: Pack said to eat less and eat only real food.
"Fish, the whole fish, not processed fish, not battered, buttered fish, but regular fish, nuts, and the usual - fruits and vegetables. What we need to do is get back to the whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables, the regular, unprocessed meats" Pack noted.
Exercise is critical.
"It's very, very hard and I have a lot of clients in their 40's and 50's and a lot of them come to me, 'I'm about to turn 40, I just turned 50, I don't know what to do. What happened? Why is this weight suddenly coming to my stomach. I never had this before,'" said certified personal trainer Kristin Su.
Su said that while hopping on the treadmill for 45 minutes, what's called steady state cardio, is great, high intensity interval training is proven to get that metabolism moving.
"This is a short burst of intensity that lasts anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds up to a few minutes with a recovery. You can be done within 20 minutes with a warm-up and cool down, it would be 30 minutes. For example, you could, let's say, do sprints on the treadmill, take a quick break, and do pushups," Su added.
Su said that making the commitment is the first step.
"Dedicate yourself to 30 minutes, three times a week, to try that interval training where you warm up for five minutes, give yourself 20 minutes of some sort of interval," Su noted.
Su said that quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short recovery periods, gets your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.
"And this way, it will really help boost your metabolism and help reduce that visceral fat we are all struggling to keep down," Su said.
Researchers said that the battle is 90 percent eating, 10 percent exercise, but the two must go together.
Pack said that if you do have extra belly fat, start by making an appointment with your own doctor, who can determine your risks, that waist-to-hip ratio, and devise a plan to slim down and get healthy.
Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.