smoking makes you gain a “hidden stomach”

Contrary to popular belief, smoking takes away belly fat, or more precisely belly fat which is not necessarily visible but which is very bad for your health. This is what a study by Danish researchers published in the British scientific journal “Addiction” reveals.



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Smoking or starting to smoke has an effect on blood "visceral fat", located deep in the abdomen, according to a study led by scientists at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.  (illustrative photo, November 16, 2022).  (BERTRAND BECHARD / MAXPPP)

It is known that cigarettes are an appetite suppressant and increase the body’s energy expenditure. As a result, smokers who want to quit often fear eating more and therefore gaining weight. It’s true… but the opposite is also true! Smoking or starting to smoke increases abdominal fat, especially what doctors call abdominal fat. “visceral fat”, located deep in the abdomen. It is the one that surrounds the organs.

To show that smoking is the cause of this fat gain, scientists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, whose work was published Wednesday March 20 in the British scientific journal Addiction, used statistical analyzes from genetic studies carried out on hundreds of thousands of people. They focused on smoking habits and the distribution of fat in the body. They also ruled out other factors such as alcohol consumption or social environment.

Leaner on the outside, but fatter on the inside

The main problem with this abdominal fat caused by smoking is that it is not visible. In fact, smokers tend to weigh less than non-smokers (the famous “appetite suppressant effect”). But even if you have a flat stomach, you may have visceral fat. As we have said, it is deeper than the visible fat of the belly, that which is located just under the skin. So, without being fat, smokers can get sick. Danish researchers are indeed talking about fat “unhealthy“, because this visceral fat increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, stroke, and dementia.

By smoking, you may be thinner on the outside, but also fatter on the inside. The health repercussions are such that Danish researchers are encouraging smokers to quit cigarettes.

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