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Skinny Fat: Does Being Skinny Mean You’re Healthy?

Skinny Fat: Does Being Skinny Mean You’re Healthy?


A common New Year’s is to get thin followed by staying thin. The motivation to get thin can be traced back to two things: some people might associate looking good and feeling good with being skinny, while a large majority associate lower body weight with greater health. But being thin does not always guarantee better health. Several research studies have proven that there is a lot more that goes into overall health and fitness than just being thin. According to Dr.Oz Garcia, Ph.D, acclaimed nutritionist, overall good health has more to do with gender and genetic factors than with your total body weight. This implies that being thin is not the answer to all your health problems; there’s a whole lot more that goes on inside your body that is a more accurate determinant of the status of your health.

Are You Skinny Fat?

According to a study conducted and published by European and U.S researchers in the European Heart Journal, overweight individuals were found to be at no greater risk of developing heart disease or cancer or dying from either illness, than individuals who were thin as long as the overweight individuals were metabolically fit. This concept leads us to the medical term ‘Metabolically Obese Normal Weight’ or ‘Normal Weight Obesity’, or the skinny fat issue. Mark Hyman, M.D, a practicing physician explains that ‘Metabolically Obese Normal Weight’ is a term used for thin individuals who have too much fat (especially belly fat), and too little muscle development.

A shocking study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 1 in every 4 skinny individuals is metabolically obese, and shows signs of suffering from pre-diabetes. Unfortunately, a skinny fat individual has twice the risk of dying if diagnosed with diabetes than an overweight diabetic patient. This additional risk is linked to the lack of muscle mass, which seems to play a role in protecting the body of the diabetic patient for a longer duration of time.

Experts at Mayo Clinic conducted extensive research on the phenomenon of being ‘metabolically fat’ or ‘thin yet unhealthy’ and discovered that your health status depends not only on how much of your body is composed of fat, but also on where it is deposited within the body. Some people possess a genetic variant that prevents fat from accumulating beneath the skin thus leading to their lean, thin body shape. However, fat deposition then occurs elsewhere such as around the internal organs and in the belly which disrupts the normal, healthy functioning of the body.

According to Mayo Clinic, skinny fat people are at the same risk of developing heart diseases and other chronic illness as overweight or obese individuals.

How to Deal With the Skinny Fat Issue

According to research, a substantial number of individuals with a normal body weight fall under the skinny fat category. How can you find out whether you are at risk of, or are suffering from Normal Weight Obesity?

  1. If you have a family history of Type 2 diabetes or heart disease, and if you are thin but sport a small pot belly, consult your doctor about getting the following essential tests done: fasting blood sugar or glucose, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.
  2. Consult your doctor about getting the following special tests done. Your doctor might not suggest these tests on his or her own so be sure to bring them up during your appointment: insulin response test, NMR lipid particle test.
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