Meet Your Fat, Continued

We have seen that fat can make more fat. It can manufacture other substances too:

In addition to adipocytes, adipose tissue contains numerous other cells that are able to produce certain hormones… Through the actions of these hormones, adipose tissue plays an important role in the regulation of glucose, cholesterol and the metabolism of sex hormones.

See the source article for the names of all those chemicals. They are involved in intercellular communication, blood clotting, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, energy storage and energy release, and other important matters. A lot of complicated interactions take place. Here is one insight from a year’s worth of lab research, described by Sylvia Tara, Ph.D., in The Secret Life of Fat,

Linoleic acid is a fatty acid […] a signaling molecule that suppresses inflammation in the body. When linoleic acid was missing, the rats developed symptoms of inflammatory disease.

The adipose tissue components of fat live in various places. The internal organs, or viscera, are encased in (surprise!) visceral fat. Men tend to get this kind more, and such belly fat is said to make them apple-shaped.

In the medical language of Latin, subcutaneous fat dwells under the skin, and is the type that tends to afflict women more, especially below the waist, making them pear-shaped. Body fat can also be found in bone marrow, in breast tissue, and amongst muscles.

Brown fat, dense with mitochondria, is something that babies have a lot of, to keep them warm. Adults keep traces of it, and brown fat is the subject of ongoing scientific investigation.

What are the rules?

According to an article from Harvard University, fat distribution is “influenced by several factors, including heredity and hormones.” Women get slammed for having generous hips and thighs, which are nowhere near as life-threatening as the aggressive, typically male bellies.

For a while now, visceral fat has been recognized as more hazardous than the subcutaneous kind. It just sits around, needlessly cushioning organs that would get along fine without padding between them. Visceral fat is implicated in not only metabolic problems, but hypertension, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, fatty gallbladder, and erectile dysfunction.

What does get hard is the “beer belly,” a misnomer because anyone can grow one. It’s not just a drinking thing, or even a male thing. Women get it too, especially as they age. The firmness of the extended midsection signals extra risk.

Too many of any kind of calories, whether they’re from alcohol or sugary foods or just from eating too much food, can increase belly fat… Beer can also interfere with fat burn, because your liver will preferentially burn alcohol instead of fat when it is consumed.

The Cleveland Clinic says the fat…

[…] is packed in tightly and, as it builds up, it will push the abdominal wall outward, exaggerating the appearance of the beer belly. The abdominal wall itself is made of muscle and tough fibrous tissues and is very firm; thus the belly will feel hard.

But just because it’s firm and maybe even muscular, does not mean it’s good.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Adipose Tissue,”, undated
Source: “Book Excerpt: ‘The Secret Life of Fat’,”, undated
Source: “Abdominal fat and what to do about it,”, 06/25/19
Source: “Q&A: The Truth About That Beer Belly,”, 09/14/18
Image by Apple and Pear Australia/CC BY 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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