We're more educated about our health and diets than ever before and although a few extra layers on us is relatively harmless, fat on our bellies can actually be really dangerous for our health.
Measuring your body mass index (BMI) is an effective way to determine if you're overweight but according to the NHS, you could be at greater risk depending on where you store your fat. And belly fat can be one of the most dangerous.
'Having a large amount of tummy fat (compared to fat around your bottom or thighs) makes you more likely to develop diabetes and heart problems', they note. A healthy waist circumference for men is less than 94cm (37 inches), and for women it's less than 80cm (32 inches).
Obesity causes 9,000 premature deaths in England every year, and can reduce life expectancy by nine years. It's also been linked to serious health problems and can increase the risk of heart disease, cancers of the breast, colon and prostate, and type 2 diabetes.
We're constantly inundated with health and diet news about eating more of this, less of that, trying this type of exercise... but what really works when you want to lose belly fat?
Get movingGone are the days when losing weight was just about eating less. The government recommends that adults cover two forms of activity: aerobic and muscle-strengthening to maintain a healthy weight loss.
This exercise should be broken down into 2 hours 30 minutes of 'moderate to intense' aerobic activity per week (jogging, swimming, power-walking... whatever takes your fancy!), and muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days a week (working all major muscle groups - legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
If you're keen to focus on losing that belly fat through exercise, try these 10 flat stomach exercises. You don't need an expensive gym membership or a fancy personal trainer and what's even better is you can start today!
Eat smartNo, this isn't the bit where we simply tell you to eat less to lose that dreaded belly fat. It's just about making healthier choices at mealtimes and snacktimes, so you can feel as good on the inside as you look on the outside. There are lots of simple ways you can lose belly fat when it comes to your daily diet, we love these superfoods below - they're proven to eradicate that spare tyre for good!
Foods that burn belly fat
Copper: Leafy greens like kale, mushrooms and seeds, which are high in copper, can help the body burn fat quicker. Recent research by the University of California in Berkeley showed that copper is an essential part of your diet as it breaks down fat cells so that they can be used for energy. Other foods which are high in copper are nuts, beans, oysters and other shellfish. Copper also prevents premature ageing and the graying of hair.
Hummus: Research from Louisiana State University has shown that people who snack on hummus have a 53% lesser chance of being obese and are 51% less likely to have high blood sugar than non-hummus eaters - and that's not all. Hummus lovers also have, on average, a waist size 2 inches smaller than their chickpea-shunning counterparts, something which the study's authors suggested could be related to the snack's high levels of resistant starch and dietary fibre.
Nuts: They're a brilliantly handy snack, and for good reason! Although they may contain more fat than the likes of a rice cake, these are good fats your body needs and will keep you fuller for longer - meaning you won't be reaching for the biscuit tin come 3pm!
Olive oil: You might think avoiding anything remotely 'fatty' is the best way to lose belly fat, but you'd be wrong. Monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, can help keep your cholesterol under control and satisfy cravings - in the same way that nuts can.
Berries: Did you know that one cup of raspberries contains six grams of fibre? It's worth filling up on these little fruits, especially in the mornings - try adding a handful to your porridge! Which leads us neatly onto...
Oats: If you find yourself eyeing up the closest sweet treat by 10.30am, it might be that you haven't eaten the right breakfast to see off blood sugar dips. Tucking into a bowl of porridge in the morning will keep you fuller for longer!
Beans: Beans, beans, good for your heart... and they're good for your tummy, too! Low in calories but high in protein and fibre, they're the ultimate food for flat tummy taming. Why not try them in a salad recipe - tasty and you'll feel so much fuller than you would eating a plate full of leaves!
Whole grains: We all know we should be eating whole grain bread and pasta instead of white, but this change has a direct effect on losing your belly fat - this could be a really good incentive to stay away from that section in the supermarket!
Green veg: Fibre-rich green veggies are perfect for anyone looking to whittle their waistline thanks to their high fibre and low-cal content. Try cutting down on the amount of carbs on your dinner plate by replacing them with green veg - you'll still feel full, but have a trimmer tum too!
14-day tummy flattening diet plan is just what you need! Devised by nutritionist, blogger and all-round health buff Madeleine Shaw, the plan is devised to shrink your tum by choosing stomach-friendly foods. And don't worry, all of the options are tasty and purse-friendly too! We also have our 7-day flat stomach diet, specially designed by a food nutritionist to help you lose up to 5lbs in a week!
Take on a challenge
Eating smarter and getting more exercise every day will certainly help you to lose belly fat, but taking on a fitness challenge specially designed to target your problem area is a great way to guarantee the results you're after!
That's why we've put together a 30-day tummy toning challenge, which gives you the exact exercises you need to do for a month for a flatter tum by the end of it.
If you're off on your summer holiday, or just fancy felling more confident in your top and jeans, our plan is specifically created to be less strenous than the abs challenges, but still with the satisfaction of toning your tummy - fast! You can download your own planner, print it out and stick it to your fridge for the ultimate encouragement. Good luck!