New research suggests that for Mexican Americans, too much belly fat (also known as visceral fat) could be an early sign of heart disease. In the study, researchers used ultrasound to measure the wall thickness of major blood vessels in the neck in Mexican-Americans living near the U.S.-Mexican border. They also used a high-precision X-ray to measure the amount of fat deep in the abdomen. Fat in the abdomen is linked to clogged arteries and heart disease. However, most research in this area has been done in non-Hispanic populations. The new study in Mexican Americans showed that people with the most belly fat also had the greatest thickening of the arteries. Interestingly, this association was only true for people who were born in the United States. These findings suggest that U.S.-born Mexican Americans have been acculturated to an American diet full of unhealthy, calorie-rich foods and a lifestyle with a lot of sitting. One way to estimate whether you have too much belly fat is to measure your waist. The larger the waist circumference, the higher the amount of belly fat. The way to reduce or prevent gaining belly fat is no different than how to prevent other weight gain, such as avoiding unhealthy foods.


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