(fashion) 'Hidden' fat may raise a woman's risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, research suggests.
Scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden estimated the visceral fat, which surrounds the abdominal organs, of more than 325,000 people.
They found the internal fat raises the risk of everything from type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure to a heart attack, especially in women.
For every additional 2.2lbs (1kg) of visceral fat a woman gains, her risk of these health complications rises by more than seven times, the study found.
This is compared to men, whose odds 'a little more than doubles', the results showed. It is unclear why there are these differences between the sexes.
'Hidden' fat may raise a woman's risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease (stock)
'We were surprised visceral fat was more strongly linked to risk of disease in women compared to men,' study author Dr Åsa Johansson said.
'Adding an extra kilogram of visceral fat can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes more than seven times in women.
'The same amount of fat accumulation only increases the risk a little more than two times in men.'
Heart disease is responsible for a quarter of all deaths in the UK and US, statistics show.
Type 2 diabetes is also a serious problem, with more than half a billion people being thought to have the condition worldwide.
Visceral fat has long been known to increase a person's risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Also known as 'active fat', research suggests it plays a 'distinctive and potentially dangerous role affecting how our hormones function', according to Diabetes.co.uk
Visceral fat also secretes a protein called retinol-binding protein 4, which may increase insulin resistance. This occurs when cells do not respond properly to insulin and is the 'driving factor' for type 2 diabetes.
Visceral fat is stored in your middle