Skinny Fat

05 Jul

The Swapawful Conversation

Me:  I AM FAT! Ugh.

My Girlfriend: Stop it! You’re so thin! You’re like a size 4! Geez….

Me: (More like a 6, what is she blind?) No, really, I’m fat. Look at this (jiggling my fatty waist as evidence).

(This argument goes on for several minutes until the comfortableness of directing attention to our problem spots subsides.)

The Skinny

Just because one looks skinny, doesn’t mean they’re not packing on the fat. Thin people can still have high levels of visceral fat, as well as fatty organs. Visceral fat accumulates internally primarily around the outside of organs such as the heart, liver, spleen, and in between the intestines. Having fatty organs can still put thin people at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and certain cancers. Causes of internal obesity have been attributed to impaired triglyceride/cholesterol metabolism increasing fat accumulation in your liver; excessive intake of fatty foods; or more commonly, eating more calories than the body uses.

How Fat Affects Your Organs

There is no evidence that fat on the inside is riskier than having fat on the outside. What is known is that it is just as comparable to causing hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

  • The liver. The liver is the body’s filter.  It converts and clears the blood of toxins.  When the liver is fatty, it doesn’t work very well as a filter.  Poor liver function has been linked to increased glucose production (diabetes), and affects overall health.
  • The ovaries. Women’s ovaries are crucial for reproduction because they produce eggs and also secrete the hormone estrogen. Problems can arise in the ovaries when too much fat is involved. Investigative studies are currently being done regarding fat around the ovaries and how it relates to pregnancy and fetal growth.
  • The heart. Although visceral fat resides in the abdomen, it can actually be hurting the heart. Research done on mice found that inflammation surrounding individual fat cells can contribute to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the heart’s arteries, and can lead to blood clots. The heart, and the arteries in general, can also be harmed by triglycerides.
  •  The brain. Much more research needs to be conducted, but scientists have found that excess visceral fat may affect brain health as well. Specifically, it was discovered that people with a larger waist and waist-to-hip ratio along with larger body mass index (BMI) have a lower total brain volume. What this really means and whether there is a correlation between abdominal fat and dementia need further investigation, but for those who carry excess weight around the middle, losing a few (or more) pounds makes sense.

Regardless of whether you have internal or external fat, treatment for either is the same.  Eat a healthful diet, weight train, and include cardiovascular exercise in your daily/weekly regimen – a must for this skinny-fat girl!



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