If you have tried and tested every method you are aware of to get yourself to sleep; and failed, then you have probably been ignoring the ‘beast in your belly.’ According to a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers, improvement in sleep quality was significantly associated with overall weight loss, especially belly fat.
To comprehend the health risks of belly fat the researchers conducted a six-month study where 77 people who had type2 diabetes or pre-diabetes were enrolled. The participants, all of whom also were overweight or obese, were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group went on a weight-loss diet and had supervised exercise training, while the other group only had the diet intervention. A total of 55 participants completed all phases of the study.
The participants filled out the Hopkins Sleep Survey at the beginning and end of the study to identify sleep problems, including sleep apnoea, daytime fatigue, insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleep or sleepiness and use of sedatives to aid sleep. Their body mass index and amount of abdominal fat were also measured at the start and end of the study.
Both groups — those assigned to a weight loss diet plus supervised exercise and those who only went on a diet — lost about 15 pounds, on average. They also lost about the same amount of belly fat, about 15 percent, which was assessed by magnetic resonance imaging [MRI].
The researchers anatomized a composite score and found that improvement by 20 percent in sleep quality was meaningfully associated with reduction in overall body fat, and, in particular belly fat. This conclusion applied to the weight loss that came from diet alone or diet plus exercise and also every subject regardless of their age or gender.
Guess, now is a good time to lose [fat] to snooze better.
To add reason to the significance of reducing belly-fat, another study presented at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), underlined that visceral or deep belly, obesity is a risk factor for bone loss and decreased bone strength in men.
The researchers of the study evaluated 35 obese men with a mean age of 34 and a mean body mass index (BMI) of 36.5. The men underwent CT of the abdomen and thigh to assess fat and muscle mass, as well as very high resolution CT of the forearm and a technique called finite element analysis (FEA), in order to assess bone strength and predict fracture risk.
The FEA analysis showed that men with higher visceral and total abdominal fat had lower failure load and stiffness, two measures of bone strength, compared to those with less visceral and abdominal fat. There was no association found between age or total BMI and bone mechanical properties.
This was a first of its kind study because most studies on osteoporosis have focused on women. Men were thought to be relatively protected against bone loss, especially obese men. And excess visceral fat is considered particularly dangerous, because in previous studies it has been associated with only increased risk for heart disease.
However the results surprised the scientists that obese men with a lot of visceral fat had significantly decreased bone strength compared to obese men with low visceral fat without any change in their BMI. The results concluded that muscle mass were positively associated with bone strength.
The above studies only add more evidence to reasons to lose belly-fat. After all, bellies don’t lie!