Have you ever considered the idea that having a normal BMI could mean nothing at all? Even if youâ€™re thin on the outside, you could be dangerously fat on the inside.
Being overweight is not a prerequisite for risk of diabetes or even heart disease. A recent study by Britainâ€™s Medical Research Counsel, which used MRI scans to see where people store fat, learned that as many as 45 percent of people with normal BMIs were storing fat around their internal organs â€” and thatâ€™s a dangerous place for fat to reside.
What Does Skinny Fat Mean?
This idea of looking healthy on the outside but being fat on the inside is something I refer to as â€œskinny fat.â€ People who are skinny-fat tend to consume a limited number of calories (typically of the sugary, fatty, bad-for-you variety) and donâ€™t use exercise to maintain their weight. But by consuming a smaller number of calories overall, they are able to keep their leaner-looking figure.
Skinny Fat People and Diabetes Risk
Itâ€™s a common myth that only overweight people can get diabetes, but when skinny-fat people are storing fat around their internal organs, their body can be disrupted in ways that lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. It would be much better for a person to be overweight but fit and active (storing fat under the skin, not around the organs) than to be slender and out of shape.
Diabetes isnâ€™t the only health risk for skinny fat individuals; heart disease is also a major concern. A University of Michigan study notes that an estimated 16 million people with a normal BMI are at risk for health problems. Contributing issues include high blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar.
Belly Fat as a Health Indicator
If BMI isnâ€™t a good measure of health, what is? The University of Michigan researchers believe that belly fat could be a better indicator of future health problems. If youâ€™re thick around the middle, your chances increase for having high blood pressure and cholesterol or having excess fat deposits around your organs.
The important takeaway here is that your outward appearance doesnâ€™t necessarily tell the whole story. Many of these health issues that result from being skinny-fat can be eliminated or avoided altogether by exercising regularly. In order to lead a healthy life, you need to eat right and stay active.