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Even Though Your Scale Says You Are Skinny You Might Be Fat

Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, leading to a staggering rise in health care costs and, more importantly, the chronic illness and early death caused by carrying too much fat.

Excess Fat = Bad Health

Most of us try to lose weight because we look better and feel better.  I believe that maintaining a healthy weight also makes you healthier, with the added bonus of looking and feeling good. Carrying extra fat on your frame alters the functioning of your entire body. The higher the percentage of fat in your body the more it impedes normal functioning, leading to metabolic derangement and inflammation, the ultimate producer of disease.

The CDC explains that being overweight and obese increases your risks for developing:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

The Scale May Tell Lies

Measuring your risk for weight related diseases is not cut and dry.  Traditionally, we determine who is overweight by measuring Body Mass Index (BMI), a calculation of your height verses your weight.  BMI= (your body weight in pounds x 703) / your height in inches2.  For adults ages 18-65, the goal is to have a BMI of 18.5-24.5; over 25 is overweight and over 30 is obese.  BMI provides a decent guideline as to who is overweight or obese, but falls short in identifying all people at risk for the above diseases.

Body fat analysis, best done through DEXA scan, hydrostatic weighing, and the latest – 3D Body Scan, is a much more accurate indicator of health risks.  A study by Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, and his colleagues found that even people who are within a weight range that is considered normal and healthy can have a body fat level that is too high.

Skinny Fat is Just as Bad

His studies prove that weight isn’t everything.  Body fat percentage can be high even in people who look thin, a condition that Dr. Lopez-Jimenez has coined “normal-weight obesity.”  This condition is extremely common.  In Dr. Lopez- Jimenez’s study sample, 61% were found to have normal-weight obesity.

With these numbers, the prevalence of this condition could be epidemic when considering our whole population.  Obesity rates according to BMI alone are skyrocketing; if the medical community added in body fat analysis as a technique to screen for obesity in every patient, it is hard to comprehend how much of our population might actually be at risk for obesity- related diseases.

Make The Change!

A lifestyle program that promotes healthy eating, realistic foods and portions, managing stress, and regular exercise is the answer to creating a healthier you.  Even for you thin people out there; a healthy lifestyle is your ticket to a healthy life.  There are no shortcuts or magic pills, just good plain hard work, discipline, and knowledge.  Anything less is missing the point!