LivingConfirmed: Physical exercise does reduce abdominal fat

Confirmed: Physical exercise does reduce abdominal fat

One of the New Year’s resolutions is always to go to the gym (or go more often) to deal with that annoying abdominal fat that some call ‘happy belly’. But have you ever wondered how physical activity produces this effect? Now, new research confirms that physical exercise is capable of reducing abdominal fat and the key would be in a signaling molecule called interleukin-6 – involved in the inflammatory response – which plays a critical role in this process, according to what they publish. the experts in the journal Cell Metabolism .

In the study, as expected, a 12-week cycling regimen decreased visceral abdominal fat in obese adults . However, this effect virtually disappeared in participants who were also treated with tocilizumab, a drug that blocks interleukin-6 signaling and is currently approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, tocilizumab treatment increased cholesterol levels regardless of physical activity.

“We all know that exercise promotes better health, and now we also know that regular training reduces abdominal mass and therefore also the risk of developing cardio-metabolic diseases ,” says Anne-Sophie Wedell-Neergaard of the University from Copenhagen (Denmark).

Abdominal fat is associated with an increased risk of not only cardio-metabolic disease, but also cancer, dementia, and all-cause mortality. Physical activity reduces visceral adipose tissue, which surrounds the internal organs of the abdominal cavity, but the underlying mechanisms have never been entirely clear.

Some researchers have proposed that a hormone called epinephrine mediated this effect, but this team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen suspected that interleukin-6 could also play an important role in this process, since it regulates energy metabolism, stimulates the breakdown of fats in healthy people and is released from skeletal muscle during exercise.

To test this idea, the researchers conducted a 12-week, single-center trial in which they randomized abdominally obese adults to four groups. A total of 53 participants received intravenous infusions of tocilizumab or a saline solution as a placebo every four weeks, combined with no exercise or a cycling routine consisting of several 45-minute sessions each week. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to assess visceral fat tissue mass both at the beginning and at the end of the study.

In the placebo groups or control groups, exercise reduced visceral fat mass by an average of 225 grams or 8%, compared to the group that did not exercise at all. But treatment with tocilizumab eliminated this effect. In the groups that exercised, this drug also increased abdominal fat mass by approximately 278 grams compared to the placebo group. In addition, their total cholesterol and “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol increased compared to the placebo group in both the exercise group and the non-exercise group. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that interleukin-6 has a physiological role in the regulation of visceral fat mass in humans,” says Wedell-Neergaard.

In future studies, researchers will delve into the effects of interleukin-6 and whether it could potentially be administered as an injection, reducing visceral fat mass on its own. ” We need a deeper understanding of this role for interleukin-6 to discuss its implications, ” Wedell-Neergaard clarifies.

Wedell-Neergaard advises for New Year’s resolutions that “in addition to measuring total body weight, it would be helpful, and perhaps more important, to measure waist circumference to track visceral fat loss and stay motivated “.

Reference: Cell Metabolism, Wedell-Neergaard, Lehrskov, and Christensen, et al .: “Exercise-Induced Changes in Visceral Adipose Tissue Mass Are Regulated by IL-6 Signaling: A Randomized Controlled Trial” https://www.cell.com / cell-metabolism / fulltext / S1550-4131 (18) 30744-7, DOI: 10.1016 / j.cmet.2018.12.007

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