Obesity is a 21st-century epidemic. Obesity is not dependent on body weight, but rather on the amount of fat a person carries. It accounts for an increase in serious chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, asthma and some cancers. In addition, large amounts of fat have been shown to cause inflammation. Losing body fat will help you to maintain good health. Although fat cells can shrink, they do not shift.
Fat is the common name for loose connective tissue which is composed of fat cells. Fat is located mostly beneath the skin but is also present around the internal organs. The cells that make up the fatty tissue store fat molecules, and it is in storing these molecules that the fatty tissue in particular areas, such as the stomach and thighs, gains mass and forms areas of bulk commonly referred to as body fat.
The Purpose of Fat
Fat serves a number of functions within the body. The tissue itself provides cushioning around organs, which serves to protect them. Possibly the most important function of fat is the storage of energy. The body stores fat and nutrients to be used as fuel. Because of this, it is necessary to have at least a minimum amount of fat in the body to maintain good health. The "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" published a study in 2006 which suggested that the presence of fat may help prevent hyperglycemia from lowered insulin concentrations, improve muscle insulin sensitivity, and decrease the amounts of fat stored in the muscles and liver.
Does Fat Shift?
The commonly held belief that fat can shift from one area of the body to another is actually a myth. As individuals gain weight, their fat cells enlarge; with weight loss, they shrink. The tissue itself does not move. Fat tissue is connected to various organs and muscles throughout the body, therefore it is impossible for it to move within the body. The impression that fat has shifted from one area of the body to another is a result of changes in your body and metabolism, such as the changes that take place as you age. An example of this is the "spare tire" that many women complain about during menopause. Pregnancy hormones can also cause fat to settle in places where it may not normally, for instance, in the breasts.
How to Shrink Fat Cells
Your body converts stored fat molecules into energy. As the energy is used, the molecules shrink and the body appears slimmer. In order to burn fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume through regular exercise and a reduced-calorie diet. Remember that it is only possible to shrink cells, not remove them entirely. The fat cells will grow again when they need to store excess fat. Liposuction removes fat cells, but the body will continue to store fat in other areas if you do not lower your caloric intake and increase your exercise.
An American writer living in the United Kingdom, Christy Mitchinson began writing professionally in 2000, during her career in laboratory science, pathology and research. She has authored training materials, standard operating procedures and patient/clinician information leaflets. Mitchinson is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and creative writing with The Open University.