So just how harmful is excess back fat? There are five ways it can hurt you, including two ways it can lead to your death.
Excess back fat can be quite unsightly, but the way it looks is only the beginning of all the problems it can lead to.
There are five ways that too much fat in one’s back can be harmful.
Two might even lead to your death — and you’ll be shocked at what one of them is.
#1 Too Much Back Fat Hurts
As one walks, he or she may feel the bulge of the fat pressing into the crease it makes with the area of skin beneath it.
This discomfort may also be felt when one sits straight up in a chair, causing either side of the crease to compress into each other.
#2 Clothes Entrapment
Excess back fat, which can be located anywhere along the back, can entrap clothes, namely bra straps and other attire that has strapping.
But large amounts of it can also suck in thin fabrics of shirts or other kinds of tops.
When straps are lost in the junction between back fat and the flatter area of skin beneath it, this not only can be quite uncomfortable, but it can cause skin irritation.
#3 Examination Difficulties for Doctors
“Having excess fat on the back can cause examination difficulties for doctors,” says Dr. David Beatty, MD, a retired general practitioner with 30+ years of experience and an instructor of general medicine for 20 years.
“To examine the spine, the doctor will firstly look at the back with the patient standing as straight as possible. We’re looking for deformities of the spine.
“Kyphosis, where the spine is bent forward, is usually most prominent in the top part of the spine and is often associated with osteoporosis [brittle bones].
“Scoliosis is when the spine is curved sideways. These won’t be as easy to notice in the obese.
“Palpating, feeling with the hand, might not give so much information either.
“When putting the back through a range of movements these may be limited by the surrounding fat, not giving a true reflection of spinal movement.”
Examining the lungs with a stethoscope is also harder, since the scope is placed against the back, and the excess layer of fat will make it more difficult to hear the lungs as the patient takes breaths.
“Epidurals and other forms or spinal anesthesia are increasingly used in childbirth, for pain relief and as an alternative to general anesthesia — particularly in lower limb joint replacement surgery,” says Dr. Beatty.
“It’s technically more difficult to put the needle into the right place when there is a lot of subcutaneous fat.
“Because of this there’s a greater chance that the procedure won’t work or that unwanted complications occur.”
#4 Organ Disease
“Fat within the abdominal cavity, underneath the abdominal muscles, is called visceral fat,” says Dr. Beatty.
“This fat tends to surround the main organs like the liver, pancreas, heart and kidneys.
“The theory is that this fat is more likely to be associated with heart disease, diabetes, raised blood pressure and cholesterol because of its proximity to the organs.
“Subcutaneous fat, lying immediately below the skin and outside the muscles, is thought to be less risky.
“So is back fat the dangerous sort or not? Thinking logically, this has to be subcutaneous fat because it’s easy to feel and clearly sits outside the large muscle groups of the back.
“However, it is centrally located on the body,” and furthermore, a lot of excess back fat is very strongly associated with a lot of excess abdominal or visceral fat. It’s a marker for bad things to come — including death from cardiovascular disease.
#5 Deadly Skin Cancer
So here is the final reason excess back blubber is so bad — a very surprising, but very logical, reason.
Deep folds of back fat will make a skin cancer self-exam very difficult — especially when there is more than one roll.
It’ll be impossible to get a good view of the skin that the roll is concealing.
One would have to pull apart the deep crease while the other arm is overhead to spread it apart further.
This is doable along the sides of one’s body, but not directly in the back.
The only way to get a view is to use a reflecting system that doesn’t require holding a hand mirror, while then keeping both arms stretched over the head to lift up the excess fat.
But if there’s enough fat there, raising the arms won’t lift it enough to expose the skin underneath for viewing.
Plus, doing skin cancer self-exams this way will be physically and psychologically draining, discouraging a person from faithfully conducting them. The result?
A deadly melanoma can remain hidden, growing in depth and eventually spreading to other parts of the body — and by the time it’s discovered — it’s too late to save the patient’s life.
Don’t Keep Putting Off a Weight Loss Plan
Now that you know the five ways that back fat is harmful, you should be more motivated than ever to make a concerted effort to lose your excess body fat.
The best way to get rid of back fat is the same way to get rid of fat anywhere else: portion control of foods; cutting back on processed foods; replacing calorie drinks with water; and committing to both a rigorous aerobic and strength training regimen.
Dr. Beatty has worked in primary medicine, surgery, accident and emergency, OBGYN, pediatrics and chronic disease management. He is the Doctor of Medicine for Strong Home Gym.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.