Before now, a lot of people used to associate pot bellies with being wealthy or living large such that everybody craved to have it.
Little did we know that pot belly also known as beer belly or "afo beer" as the igbos will always call it was a sign that things were going wrong in the body.
Previously, pot belly was commonly seen amongst older men but today, the story has changed.
It seems our young men have decided to take a leaf from the book of these old men.
You can hardly go a day without seeing a young man in his late 20s or 30s with a paunch hanging over his belt.
It is not like pot bellies are restricted to men alone but the fact is that while women store more fat on their breasts, thighs, pelvic areas and buttocks, men tend to carry it around their abdomen.
The major reason behind the development of pot belly is the imbalance between the consumption of exess calories and it's expenditure which leads to visceral fat accumulation in the abdomen hence the belly begins to protrude.
Medically speaking, pot bellies are not without health consequences,they have been found to increase the risk of having insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, blood lipid disorders,high blood pressure, stroke and other heart related diseases.
In fact a person who has pot belly is said to be abdominally or centrally obese.
Are you curious to know why you or your friends have pot belly? Then don't stop reading.
As a man goes down in age, his rate of metabolism begins to slow down.
That is why dieticians recommend that men in their 50s consume between 1800-2000 calories per day.
Though due to individual differences,not all men who grow older develop pot bellies but those who consume excess calories and engage in little or no physical exercise are prone to have pot belly.
2) CUSHING'S SYNDROME
This is a medical condition caused by the excessive secretion of a hormone called CORTISOL.
CORTISOL influences our response to stressful conditions and also regulates the breakdown of carbohydrates,fats and proteins for energy production.
Whenever there is hypercortisolism(excessive secretion of CORTISOL) which can arise due to abnormal tumors in the brain or prolonged use of drugs such as prednisolone, dexamethasone etc, the metabolic activity of CORTISOL becomes exaggerated hence Cushing's syndrome develops which is characterized by moon face, pot belly etc.
The implication is that if a man suffers from Cushing's syndrome, then he is bound to have pot belly (central obesity).
3)LESS PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Over the years, a lot of people generally have become less physically active and this contributes to the growing rate of obesity, abdominal obesity not excluded.
These days people don't trek even short distances anymore rather they take a cab.
Some work at jobs that entail sitting for 6-8hours under air conditioners with little or no time to walk from office to office as they always have secretaries and receptionists at their beck and call .
While others would spend 2-3hours every day watching TV shows like bbnaija and other soap operas.
Bbnaija fans I dey hail Una o, from double wahala to pepper dem gang .
The truth is that people gain weight when they continue to consume excess calories and engage in no physical exercise to shed those calories.
Sedentary lifestyle makes it difficult for people to lose some of this excess fat they have accumulated especially around the abdomen,hence pot belly develops.
4) EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL INTAKE
I know you have been longing to see alcohol as one of the causes of pot belly ,well it is finally here. After all, that was where the name "beer belly"came from.
Just for clarity sake, there are people who don't take alcohol yet have pot belly, there are those who are die hard alcoholics yet have no protruding stomach and there are those who consume alcohol and still have pot belly.. I hope you got that?
Alcohol has been implicated as one of the causes of pot belly because it contains a huge amount of calories which are converted and stored as fats.
Alcohol also lowers blood sugar levels hence people tend to over eat after binge drinking.
A moderately active young man is expected to consume between 2000-2,200calories per day but when they consume more than the necessary amount of calories than they burn, pot belly begins to form.
For instance, from my little research, one bottle of LEGEND EXTRA STOUT (60cl) provides 225 calories.
If a man takes up to 5 bottles of LEGEND EXTRA STOUT,he would end up consuming 1,125 calories from beer alone excluding the calories he will still get from the food he will eat that same day.
Moderate alcohol intake may have some benefits but excessive consumption not only gives you a pot belly but also destroys your liver.
5) INADEQUATE SLEEP
Sleep deprivation has been found to play a role in body fat accumulation and weight gain.
The secretion of hormones such as cortisol, leptin and Grehlin can be affected by sleep cues.
I believe by now, you must have known a little about cortisol but while a higher concentration of leptin in the body increases satiety hence reduces food intake, a rise in grehlin secretion provokes hunger, slows metabolic rate and increases fat storage.
The bottom line is this, an adult is expected to have at least 7-9hours of sleep every day but when you consistently have poor quality sleep over a long period of time, you begin to add weight even in your abdomen.
6) GENETIC INFLUENCE
Our genetic constitution influence a lot of things about us including our physical make up.
As regards abdominal obesity, the genes that code for leptin and cortisol receptors have been implicated.
Though men generally store more fat on the abdomen but some men have a greater tendency to do so.
If you have a familial history of pot belly, what I mean by this is that if pot belly runs in your family, then you have increased chances of inheriting it.
I would rather call this a predisposing factor than a cause.
Just as I said earlier, in this part of the world we live in, people associate having a pot belly with being rich or living big.
They believe that if you are wealthy then it should show on your body.
This notion has influenced the lifestyle of some unenlightened rich men.
They care less about the nutritional value of whatever they consume since they can afford it, after all the goal is to look fat so that people will know they are wealthy.
Most people who have high societal standing tend to have a sedentary lifestyle.
They always have a busy schedule and little or no time to exercise. They don't even trek no matter how short the distance is, it is always from their cars to the lift to their offices just like that and this encourages fat accumulation in the belly since there's no way to burn them.
Since men with protruding bellies are considered rich and influential, some young men desire to also have pot bellies so they can also receive recognition, admiration, praise and respect that the society give to these men.
People react to stressful conditions differently, sometimes it makes them gain weight and other times lose weight .
For instance, a person who is physically stressed as a result of working all day tend to over eat hence gaining more weight while another person who is going through emotional stress such as a heartbreak, financial crisis, divorce etc may not even have appetite for food thus losing weight.
The stress hormone cortisol is secreted when people go through stress but their excessive secretion promotes fat storage in the abdomen hence pot belly.
9) UNHEALTHY DIET.
Please don't kill yourself with your fork and spoon.
The high consumption of junk foods such as cake, chocolates, fried foods and greasy fast foods give large amount of calories.
Sometimes these foods are prepared and preserved with oils that has trans fats and trans fats are not good for your health as they increase the risk of obesity, insulin resistance and some heart diseases.
Even our surgary soft drinks are not excluded.
For some of us Nigerians that have the habit of drinking one bottle of soft drink after each meal, do you know that a bottle of coke (50cl) for instance gives 210 calories?
It then means that if you always take a bottle of coke after each meal, at the end of 3 square meals you would have consumed 630 calories per day from taking coke alone in addition to the calories you will still get from the food you ate.
Yet these soft drinks don't give you satiety hence you get hungry again after few minutes of taking them.
When you consume these calories than you burn them, abdominal obesity develops.