If you stand up, can you see your feet?

Want to nab a sneaky health thief that’s fast becoming Public Enemy No. 1? Grab a tape measure, lock the bathroom door, get naked … and take an honest, your-eyes-only gander at your middle. If your waist’s more than 35 inches around for women, 40 for men, it’s time to get real about the fat you keep pretending is a “no big deal” muffin top or beer belly.

We’re talking abdominal fat, aka ab fat. Those breezy summer catalogs clogging your mailbox may offer loads of high-fashion camouflage for a big belly, from XL T-shirts to floaty linen tunics and Miraclesuits. But you’re probably aware that “out of sight, out of mind” is a risky way to deal with a spare tire.

We YOU Docs have been warning about ab fat for more than a decade (find out more in our new book, “YOU: Losing Weight”). But the latest data knocked even our tube socks off.

1. Ab fat is lethal. That spare tire is as deadly as a pack-a-day smoking habit or sky-high blood pressure. Ab fat dumps fatty acids and chemicals into your bloodstream that boost dangerous, bodywide inflammation. If you’re among the 28.3 million North Americans with heart disease, even a modest tummy pooch doubles your odds for an early death.

2. Ab fat infiltrates your liver and squeezes your heart. If you saw Mehmet on that unforgettable episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” a few years back where he dangled thick, swollen sheets of omentum — the curtain of abdominal fat that stretches from your stomach to your pelvis and that should be lacy and thin — you know how ugly this stuff can get. Fat that accumulates in our omentum oozes out to threaten your organs. One in nine adults now has a fatty liver, which is a gilt-edged invitation to diabetes, heart disease and serious liver trouble.

3. Ab fat is bad for bones, joints, brains, breasts and prostates. It weakens your skeleton, increases arthritis risk and pain, raises your odds for dementia by 80 percent, increases at least one kind of breast cancer and likely prostate cancer, too. Oh yeah, and it makes migraines more likely.

4. Ab fat is dangerous even if the rest of you is slim. Up to 45 percent of skinny women and 60 percent of thin men have some. It takes a tape measure, not a bathroom scale, to find this nasty stuff.

Dropping just 3 percent to 5 percent of your body weight could shrink ab fat by 20 percent and liver fat by 40 percent!  

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.

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