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What Causes A Big Belly In Women?

October 8, 2020
February 12, 2024

Having a big belly in women does make one self-conscious as it's hard to conceal. More crucially, it can lead to a myriad of health issues.

Table of Contents

Stubborn belly fat is a common physical condition and arguably, one of the most dreaded as it is hard to eliminate.

In women, this ordinarily happens as they get older and head into menopause. In men and with age, excess fat tends to accumulate in the abdomen region resulting in its appearance; that of a big belly.

Having a big belly in women does make one self-conscious as it is hard to conceal. More crucially and perhaps detrimental, it can lead to many health issues.

What is a "Big belly"?

It is not hard to visualise what a “big belly” looks like. But if you are unsure whether it is caused by excess belly fat or bloat, a doctor’s examination will clear things up. Generally, for women, a reading of 35 inches or more (measured around the stomach just above the hip bone level), could indicate a possible high concentration of belly fat.

Aside from the inevitable ageing, there are other contributing factors in forming belly fat.

Top 10 Contributing Factors of Big belly In Women

01. Calories Consumed

We need the energy to function, and we get them from the food we eat. Our calorie intake ideally should be enough for what we need, but most times, we end up consuming more. Exercising and other physical activities burn calories, and the more you burn, the more weight you will lose - in a healthy way. Weight gain, among other factors, is often associated with consuming more calories than what the body needs as this leads to excess fat.

02. Muscle Mass

Muscles are essential as they enable us to do what we do and need to do. Muscles are dense compared to fat, so they take up less space in the body. The unavoidable truth is that we lose muscle mass as we age. Hence, we seemingly tend to gain more fat as we get older.

03. Genetics

Genes play a significant role in our body shape. If there is a history of obesity in the family, the higher the likelihood of a person becoming obese.

04. Unhealthy diet

Indulging in food items high in sugar, trans fat, and excessive alcohol intake are just some less-than-desirable habits that are detrimental and can lead to the accumulation of belly fat. Additionally, insufficient protein intake is also a factor in forming belly fat. Adequate protein can increase metabolism and reduce caloric intake.

05. Sedentary lifestyle

Staying physically active is one of the keys to healthier and fitter health. Unfortunately, we tend not to realise it or make time for it for several reasons. Working out regularly can keep excess fat away!

06. Cortisol

Too much stress hormone (cortisol) can lead to weight gain. Stress eating is an example. This overconsumption results in excess fat, often stored in the abdominal region.

07. Lack of adequate sleep

Sleep is important, and lack of it can lead to weight gain. A study was done on 70,000 women over 16 years. The results indicated that those who slept fewer than five hours per night were 32% more likely to gain extra weight.

08. Menopause And Belly Fat

Women gaining weight during menopause is a common occurrence. During puberty, a woman's body gets ready for pregnancy. Estrogen sends signals to the body to store fat in the subcutaneous fat zone on the hips and thighs. Menopause occurs a year after a woman's last menstrual cycle. This is the start of estrogen level reduction, where fat will be stored around the stomach more than the thighs and hips.

The amount of belly fat a woman gains during menopause depends on genetics and age the menopause sets in.

09. The Gut Bacteria Factor

Our body contains bacteria and lots of them. Some benefit us, while others cause issues. Gut health is not a common thought of afterthought even for most of us, but it is essential to understand that an imbalance can result in weight gain and excess belly fat. Eating the right food promotes a healthy gut. Food with high fibre content helps in stabilising hunger, preventing one from overeating. Those low in fibre and a diet of refined carbs do the opposite.

10. Postpartum

Eating for two is not true. In your third trimester, it is recommended that you consume 200 extra calories on top of the 2000 daily calories for women. Excess calories will reflect on your body - with prominent fat gain on the abdomen, arms and thighs.

What Can Be Done?

Candidates looking at liposuction, such as Vaser Liposuction to eliminate belly fat need to know that not everybody is a suitable candidate. Suitability depends on the excess fat present, your BMI, skin laxity, etc.

Unlike traditional liposuction, which removes fat through avulsion, Vaser Liposuction is an ultrasonic-assisted form of liposuction. This method will not disturb its surrounding connective tissue. It can remove fat cells permanently from the targeted treated area.

Small incisions less than 4mm long are made strategically on the skin, followed by infiltration of anaesthetic solution into the areas to be treated. Afterwards, the doctor will insert the ultrasonic probe into the deep adipose tissue, moving it uniformly all over the fat tissues to emulsify the fat.

The probe is removed once the fat-melting process is achieved. Finally, using surgical cannulas of varied sizes, Dr Puah will debulk fat and carry out body sculpting for the patient. During Vaser Liposuction, collagen production will be stimulated, causing the skin to retract and take on its new body shape.

Difference Between Weight Loss And Fat Loss

It is important not to confuse yourself with the difference between weight and fat loss. Those struggling with their weight loss often struggle with stubborn fat, because to lose weight, you must shed the fat.

That being said, some do not wish to reduce the numbers on their weighing scale. They are concerned about localised fat on their outer or inner thighs or stomach. This group of people usually includes those who are getting married and want to look their best on their wedding day or those with a postpartum belly.

Weight Loss is about losing weight overall and can usually be achieved by dietary and lifestyle changes. Diet pills and adopting some fad Hollywood diet trends will not allow you to lose weight healthily! Beware of the negative and, most importantly, dangerous side effects of shortcut weight loss solutions.

Besides excess calorie intake, there are also other factors that cause weight gain, such as hormonal imbalance, consuming foods that result in insulin and leptin resistance, chronic stress, food intolerance, or even lack of sleep!

Dr. Ivan Puah, the medical director of Amaris B. Clinic advises,

"Treatment for weight loss and targeted fat loss are very different. When you lose weight, you will lose both fat and muscles simultaneously. At the same time, the rate at which different parts of your body burn through fat is also different. For example, one may lose more fat from unexpected areas such as the breasts rather than from 'stubborn' areas like the hips when one starts to lose weight."

If you have specific problem areas, such as a big belly in women, weight loss alone may not be the right option. Dr. Ivan Puah explains,

"On the other hand, targeted fat loss treatment may improve one's body shape, but may not significantly impact one's body weight. It is very important for me to understand the concerns of each patient so that I can advise them on the types of treatment required to help them achieve the desired results. Our treatment plan will depend on whether the patient wishes to lose weight or hopes to improve their body size or shape. Other factors include the amount of localised fat the patient has that he or she desires to lose, the amount of downtime the patient can or cannot afford to have the patient's physical health, and the types of treatment options that match the patient's expectations."


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