We have all heard the phrase “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” Then why is it that we as a society equate thinness to being healthy and fit when in all reality there is a growing epidemic of what researchers are now referring to as ‘normal weight obesity AKA: skinny fat.
How can that be? People, who from all outward appearances seem thin and fit with very little visible fat, can actually be in the same high risk category as many of their heavier unfit colleagues.
We've previously blogged about whether it's better to be fit and fat or skinny and unfit. Now the studies are showing that it isn't necessarily what the scale reads that puts one at high risk but instead overall body fat composition, especially visceral fat. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource have shown that normal weight individuals who have higher levels of body fat are at an increased risk for developing metabolic syndrome, hypertension, high triglycerides levels, and pre-diabetes, many of the same conditions seen in the overweight/obese population.
Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D who led the study states that "the definition of obesity is having excess fat, not excess weight.” Once again proving that the scale is not the most reliable source for many individuals for determining one's health and fitness.
So why is it with all the science and technology available to us, that we still allow a number on the scale, the size of an article of clothing, or even Hollywood celebrities to determine whether we are at our proper weight?
Many times those who are afflicted with this condition, 'skinny fat', are unaware of their risk until the time they are diagnosed with diseases that often accompany it, such as hypertension, heart disease, or type II diabetes. Without any outward appearance of this so-called belly fat, these patients are often caught by surprise with the terminology 'normal weight obesity' when they have never experienced a weight issue any time throughout their life.
Studies have shown that by increasing activity via both cardio and strength training, in addition to following a healthy, nutrient filled diet, one can actually shrink the deep internal visceral, or organ surrounding, fat within the abdomen, therefore reversing many of the symptoms that go along with this condition.
So the next time you are in line at the grocery store or working out at the gym next to someone who by all outward appearances seems to be of 'normal' weight know that appearances can be deceiving. You might be quite surprised that you are healthier even though you may weigh a little more on the scale.
Would you be willing to weigh a little more on the scale knowing that you are within a normal range of body fat or would you be willing to forgo that for a smaller number on the scale? Have you ever had your body composition done only to be caught by surprise that it was higher then you expected?