Bikes beat pills for fighting fat

More evidence is emerging that exercise is the key to reducing stores of the dangerous fat that hides deep in the body.

Scientists know that visceral adipose tissue (VAT) — fat that we can’t see — is a major threat to health.

Recent research has pointed to exercise as being highly effective in ridden this fat from the body, although the pharmacological sector has been promoting medicines as a cure.

Now a new study has shown that exercise is the best bet.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre evaluated changes in visceral fat in 3,602 participants from 17 randomized controlled trials over a 6-month period measured by a CT or MRI exam.

Both exercise and medicines resulted in less visceral fat, but the reductions were more significant per kilogram of body weight lost with exercise.

"Visceral fat can affect local organs or the entire body system. Systemically it can affect your heart and liver, as well as abdominal organs," said senior author and cardiologist Dr. Ian J. Neeland, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine.

"When studies use weight or body mass index as a metric, we don't know if the interventions are reducing fat everywhere in the body, or just near the surface."

"The location and type of fat is important. If you just measure weight or BMI, you can underestimate the benefit to your health of losing weight”.

"Exercise can actually melt visceral fat,” she added.

Dr. Neeland said researchers previously thought of fat as inert storage, but over the years this view evolved and fat is now seen as an active organ.

"Some people who are obese get heart disease, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome -- and others don't," Dr. Neeland said. "Our study suggests that a combination of approaches can help lower visceral fat and potentially prevent these diseases.”

The study was published in Mayor Clinic Proceedings.

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