Truncal obesity occurs when fat builds around your stomach and abdomen. It may be linked to diet, medications, or certain medical disorders.

Truncal obesity happens when fat builds up around a person’s stomach and abdomen. It can be caused by an excess of calories, but it’s also sometimes the result of health disorders that affect your hormones, such as Cushing syndrome or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

People with truncal obesity are at an increased risk of complications such as heart health concerns, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and a reduced life expectancy.

Lifestyle changes are often the first treatment for truncal obesity, but medications and surgery are also options.

Read more about obesity here.

Truncal obesity is a type of obesity that occurs when an excess of fat builds up around the center of a person’s body. It’s also called abdominal obesity or central obesity.

Doctors and healthcare professionals often calculate truncal obesity by measuring a person’s height-to-weight ratio or weight circumference. Typically, you have truncal obesity if your height-to-weight ratio is more than 0.5, or your waist circumference is more than 31.4 inches for people assigned female at birth and more than 35–37 inches for people assigned male at birth.

Cushing syndrome and truncal obesity

Truncal obesity is sometimes linked to a medical disorder called Cushing syndrome. People with Cushing syndrome overproduce a hormone called cortisol. This changes how your body stores fat. It can lead to a buildup of fat around your stomach, causing truncal obesity.

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There are multiple possible causes for truncal obesity. Sometimes, the cause of truncal obesity is linked to lifestyle factors such as diet. But there can be other causes, such as hormonal medical conditions and specific medications.

Causes of truncal obesity can include:

  • High-calorie diets: An excess of calories can lead to truncal obesity. Some research has suggested that a diet heavy in overly processed foods is more likely to result in truncal obesity than other diets high in calories.
  • Heavy alcohol use: Alcohol use has been linked to a buildup of fat around a person’s abdomen.
  • Lack of physical activity: As is true for other types of obesity, a lack of exercise can lead to truncal obesity.
  • Cushing syndrome: Overproduction of cortisol can lead to truncal obesity.
  • An underactive thyroid gland: Thyroid hormone helps to regulate your metabolism, and an underactive thyroid can lead to slowed metabolism and weight gain. Without treatment, this can sometimes cause truncal obesity.
  • PCOS: PCOS can cause rapid weight gain and can make it harder to maintain a moderate weight. For some people, this results in truncal obesity.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Other hormonal imbalances are also linked to truncal obesity. For instance, low testosterone in people assigned male at birth is linked to truncal obesity.
  • Certain medications: Certain medications can affect your metabolism and how your body processes and stores fat, leading to truncal obesity. This can include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and steroids.

Studies have shown that obesity can increase your risk of many other health conditions, and truncal obesity is linked to a higher risk of complications than other forms of obesity. This can include an increased risk of:

There are a few different treatment options for truncal obesity. The right treatment option can depend on factors such as your underlying cause of the truncal obesity and on a your overall health.

Treatment options might include:

Sometimes, addressing your underlying cause can also help treat truncal obesity. For instance, stopping a medication that’s causing weight gain might allow you to maintain a moderate weight and resolve truncal obesity.

Treating an underactive thyroid or Cushing syndrome might also help make it easier for someone with truncal obesity to manage their weight and resolve their condition.

Truncal obesity is a type of obesity that occurs when fat builds around your stomach and abdomen in the center of your body. It can be the result of excess calories, but it can also be a medical side effect or a complication of hormonal conditions such as Cushing syndrome.

Truncal obesity is linked to an increased risk of obesity complications, including heart health concerns, type 2 diabetes, and a lowered life expectancy.

The best treatment option for truncal obesity depends on the underlying cause. But options such as changes to your diet and lifestyle, medications, therapy, and surgery can help resolve truncal obesity.