Why African men have pot belly, the health risks and solution

The African traditional school of thought, is that 'the bigger the pot belly, the richer the person'. Obesity is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

InformAfrica.com – The African traditional school of thought, is that ‘the bigger the pot belly the richer the person’, this may explain why a growing high number of African men are indisciplined in terms of proper eating habits and fitness. On InformAfrica.com, we look at why some African men have pot belly, the health risks and how to reduce abdominal fat.

Charles Inojie and John Okafor Pot Belly
Charles Inojie and John Okafor, are two comic Nollywood actors with pot belly.

Pot Belly is said to be an ‘African man’s sign of wealth’; and this indiscipline comes at the expense of increasing the health risks linked with abdominal fat, including  type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

NOTE: Pls do not copy and paste this InformAfrica article (in its entirety) on your blog or website.

Why African men have pot belly (belly fat)


The number 1 perceived reason why many or some African men tend to have pot belly, is linked to the over-consumption of alcoholic beer which is high in calories. It is a known fact that obesity is the result of eating more calories than we burn off through physical activity; including other factors like age, gene, diet, psychological issues and lack of physical activity.

A large number of African men have pot belly (belly fat) due to high consumption of calories from eating big plates of food and drinking too much beer. Over-consumption of sugary beverages may also increase the accumulation of belly fat. However, alcoholic beer have been particularly associated with fat in the midsection of the body.

Pot belly - African men at beer parlor
Pot belly African men are pictured here guzzling bottles of beer at a beer parlor.

Beer parlor is where many African men go to exhibit their sign of wealth, ordering bottles of premium brand beer, bottle after bottle; stuffing their stomach excessively with friends and fellow beer drinkers.

Here’s what Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrine expert and obesity researcher with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, has to say about alcohol consumption’s linkage to abdominal fat:

“In general, alcohol intake is associated with bigger waists, because when you drink alcohol, the liver burns alcohol instead of fat,” says Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrine expert and obesity researcher with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Beer also gets the blame because alcohol calories are so easy to overdo. A typical beer is said to have 150 calories – and if one consumes several bottles in one sitting, you can end up with serious calorie overload.

Beer belly is said to be more prominent in older people because as you get older, your calorie needs go down, you often become less active, and gaining weight gets easier.

African men who over eat as a sign of wealth, contributing to pot belly

Another reason why many African men tend to have pot belly, is when their eating is motivated by pleasure and not by hunger. Such as the pleasure of overeating as a sign of wealth. Hereby consuming excessive amount of calories more than the generally recommended daily calorie intake.

Jollof rice meme - Nigeria
Nigerian jollof rice meme, but is also indication of over-consumption of food calories.

According to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM); ‘When eating is motivated by pleasure, rather than hunger, endogenous rewarding chemical signals are activated which can lead to overeating’.

This eating phenomenon ultimately affects body mass and may be a factor in the continuing rise of obesity.

“Hedonic hunger’ refers to the desire to eat for pleasure, and to enjoy the taste, rather than to restore the body’s energy needs,” says Palmiero Monteleone, MD, of the University of Naples SUN in Italy and lead author of this study.

When you take in more calories than you burn, the excess calories are stored as fat.

The health risks of pot belly

The health risks of pot belly is the same reported with obesity. Belly fat in the midsection of the body is linked to a variety of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Other health risks associated with obesity are:

  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Respiratory disorders

The risk of developing these diseases is said to higher when weight is concentrated near the waist (belly fat).


How to get rid off pot belly (belly fat)


Cutting down your calories intake and engaging in more physical activity is do doubt one of the most effective solution to getting rid of pot belly (belly fat). See below for more tips on weight loss:

  1. Adding protein to your diet is the simplest, most effective and most delicious way to lose weight with minimal effort. Studies show that protein both increases your metabolic rate and helps reduce appetite [reference: 1]. Because protein requires energy to metabolize, a high protein diet can increase calories burned by up to 80 to 100 calories per day [sources: 2, 3, 4].
  2. Sugary soft drinks (e.g, soda), is one of the most fattening food items in today’s modern diet.Studies have shown that sugary drinks are strongly linked to an increased risk of obesity, with one study in children showing a 60% increased risk for each daily serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage [source: 5].
  3. Exercise helps to lose belly fat. Aerobic exercises like running, swimming, cycling and hiking are some of the best exercises that help reduce body fat. When losing weight, people tend to lose it first in the midsection area (abdominal area); which is good news for anyone looking to lose pot belly fat. Note that, doing sit-ups, crunches, or other abdominal exercises strengthens your core muscles and helps to hold in your belly fat, but won’t eliminate it.

The African traditional school of thought, is that ‘the bigger the pot belly, the richer the person’.

Nigeria is the second largest beer market in Africa, after South Africa. And with the largest population in Africa, a growing middle class men who probably see pot belly as a sign of wealth, are consuming beer at an alarming rate.

Beer is said to be the most popular alcoholic drink in Nigeria, making up about 96% of all alcohol sales. Therefore, because of the link between calories from alcohol and belly fat, drinking less alcohol (beer) is a good place to start – for African men looking to lose their pot belly fat.

NOTE: Pls do not copy and duplicate this InformAfrica article (in its entirety) on your blog or website.

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