Upper abdominal weight gain means accumulation of visceral fat or fluids in the upper abdominal region which causes an increased waist size. Visceral fat refers to the fat that is present between the abdominal walls and the internal organs. Upper abdominal weight gain is a major health concern all over the world especially in women. There are a number of reasons that result in a significant increase in the weight of the upper abdominal region. Underlying medical condition can also result in upper abdominal weight gain.
1. Thyroid issues
Thyroid hormone is responsible for controlling the basal metabolic rate of the body. This is the rate of calorie burning at rest. Hypothyroidism leads to lack of thyroid hormones in the system which reduces the BMR. The reduced metabolic rate leads to accumulation of fat in the upper abdomen and other regions of the body leading to weight gain. Low thyroid levels also lead to salt and water retention leading to upper abdominal weight gain.
2. Ovarian problems
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS results in the development of cysts in the ovaries along with hormonal imbalance. This, in turn, causes rapid upper abdominal weight gain and irregular periods. PCOS can be caused due to hereditary factors, high levels of insulin in the system, abnormal development of foetus and low grade inflammation. Non-cancerous ovarian tumour can also lead to upper abdominal weight gain due to fluid accumulation in the belly. This condition is also called Meigs syndrome.
3. Liver disease
Fluid accumulation in the belly due to compromised liver function leads to upper abdominal weight gain. The liver function can be compromised due to hepatitis, excessive alcohol consumption and other factors. The fluid known as ascites gradually builds up in the upper abdominal region in a painless manner. This kind of weight gain is often mistaken for conventional weight gain caused due to fat. Other symptoms to look for include swelling of the legs and jaundice.
4. Cushing’s syndrome
Excessive secretion of cortisol hormone by the adrenal glands leads to Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing’s syndrome is characterized by a rapid increase in upper abdominal weight called central obesity. Stretch marks are also prominent on the abdomen due to rapid weight gain. The reason for this is the excess levels of Cortisol hormone which promotes the release of glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids lead to weight gain.
5. Steroid medicines
Consumption of steroid medications such as prednisone results in an abnormal increase in the upper abdominal weight.
6. Unhealthy food products
Junk foods are rich in carbohydrates and bad fat which promote fat accumulation in the upper abdomen. Therefore, excessive consumption of junk food leads to a rapid upper abdominal weight gain. The fast food items such as pizzas, refined food and other similar items are hard to digest by the system and become stored in the form of fat. Moreover, the high calorie content of such food products leads to obesity. In the modern times, majority of the people including women are actively indulging in junk food which is contributing hugely to the problem of upper abdominal weight gain.
7. No exercise
Lack of regular exercise and a sedentary lifestyle leads to deposition of layers of fat in the belly which increases the weight of the upper abdomen. Lack of physical activities is one of the primary reasons of increased abdominal fat. Thus, a lethargic lifestyle needs to be avoided in order to prevent upper abdominal weight gain.
Stress leads to increased secretion of cortisol hormone by the adrenal glands. The high level of cortisol hormone promotes fat accumulation in the abdominal region. An article by the Harvard Medical School attested to this fact. Cortisol hormone also stimulates the liver to produce excess sugar. Sugar results in an increased feeling of hunger causing the person to eat consume more calories than required. This, in turn, leads to more fat accumulation. Thus, it is necessary to keep stress at bay by avoiding long working hours and ensuring regular sleep for a sufficient time period.
The daily intake of calories should not be more than the calories burned by the body. Overeating results in more calories entering the system than burned by the body. The excess calories are stored in the form of fat in the upper abdomen causing weight gain. Proteins usually do not get stored in the body unlike carbohydrates and fat.
Women who have reached menopause often find that their upper abdominal weight has increased. This is because of hormonal changes at menopause and changes in the body composition which causes fat accumulation in the upper abdominal region.