Potbellies pose these health risks because the fat that produces them is metabolically more active. Abdominal fat simply breaks down more easily and enters the chemical processes related to disease quicker than sex-specific fat or fat located in other parts of the body. Unfortunately, the belly fat is typically being restocked as fast, or faster, than it is being depleted.
Another problem for potbellied men is back pain. This is caused by the excess weight, a forward shift in the body¿s center of gravity resulting from the pot, and muscle weakness (particularly abdominal muscles) related to age and inactivity. Together these factors can lead to excess curvature of the lower spine (lumbar area) and pain as the individual works to maintain an upright position. (Incidentally, a potbelly--even a huge one--normally does not show the outlines of the bloated fat cells (cellulite) because abdominal skin is generally thicker and less taut than that covering the pelvis, buttocks and thighs.)
Body fat is, of course, necessary for life. Besides being a source of energy, it is a storage site for some vitamins, a major ingredient in brain tissue, and a structural component of all cell membranes. Moreover, it provides a padding to protect internal organs and insulates the body against the cold. But as we age, most of us tend to gain fat and weight--about 10 percent of our body weight per decade during adulthood. This stems partly from a steady decline in metabolic rate, but mostly from a decrease in physical activity. Still, getting too fat (more than 30 percent body fat in females and 25 percent in males) is associated with increased risk of disease and premature death, regardless of where the fat is stored in the body. As a society, we are severely stressing the scales to the point that obesity is now a national health epidemic.
Answer orginally posted on September 23, 2002