Among women over 60, extra abdominal fat appears to increase the risk of artery clogging more than either overall obesity or pockets of excess fat located anywhere else in the body, researchers said. These findings suggest that "all fat is not the same in women," Dr. Robert Bonow of the American Heart Association said in a statement. This is not the first study to warn people of the health dangers of pot bellies. Past research has shown that excess belly fat, compared to fat elsewhere in the body, can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as up the chances of stroke in middle age. Body fat tends to accumulate around the abdomen with age. In the current study, the authors compared excess abdominal fat to extra peripheral fat--such as in the arms, hips and buttocks--for the risk of developing atherosclerosis, the fatty buildup on the lining of arteries that can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. The researchers measured body fat in 1,356 women between the ages of 60 and 85, and scanned their arteries for signs of tiny calcium deposits, known as calcification--one of the first signs of atherosclerosis. Specifically, Dr. Laszlo B. Tanko of the Center for Clinical and Basic Research in Denmark and his colleagues looked for signs of calcification in the aorta, the main artery leaving the heart. Reporting in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the authors found that women who had the highest degree of calcification in the aorta also carried the highest percentage of abdominal fat and had low levels of fat in other body regions. Surprisingly, the women who had the lowest levels of aortic calcification were generally obese, with excess fat in the abdomen as well as in other areas of the body. "In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that in elderly women localization of fat mass is more important for atherogenesis than obesity per se," Tanko and his colleagues write. The percentage of abdominal fat also tended to be higher among women who had already experienced a heart attack, relative to those with no heart disease, regardless of whether they had extra body fat in other regions. "Since we can't design our bodies and direct fat to specific locations, it's important to exercise and watch our weight," Bonow said in the statement.