Ignorance is Not Bliss: Being Slim Doesn't Exempt You from Diseases Often Associated with Obesity

You’re naturally physically slim. You prefer a burger rather thank a salad and your idea of a good workout is your long commute to work and back. You look great. You feel great. But are you really? If this description doesn’t suit you personally, it’s very likely you know someone in your life who it does describe; someone who one may affectionately call, “skinny fat.”

The term “skinny fat” refers to slim-figured people of normal weight with very little muscle mass and a high(er) body fat percentage. 

Perhaps you don’t have the time to get to the gym after a long day or maybe you just don’t feel like it. Either way, by choosing to measure your health by the way your body looks on the outside while disregarding important - but often invisible - metabolic health markers that can have a huge impact on your health, you could be unknowingly shortening your lifespan and, hence, threatening your longevity.

The body fat in inactive slim people is mostly visceral fat. Unlike subcutaneous fat (body fat that sits underneath the skin), visceral fat latches onto your internal organs like the liver, pancreas, heart and your intestines. Subcutaneous fat may affect the circumference of your waist, but visceral fat affects the state of your overall health and wellbeing. Because it’s hidden, it is often overlooked. However, research has shown that visceral fat can "suffocate" your internal organs (Feizo, 2016) and prevent them from completing their normal function. 

This ‘nasty [and] firm rather than squishy (2016) substance has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery' (Harvard Medical School, 2019).

Lack of exercise or physical activity can do a great deal of damage to your body, more than you may realise. Dr. Martin Gabala, Ph.D. states in his book, The One Minute Workout, “The problem is, if you’re in your forties, fifties and sixties, you may not know whether you have things like atherosclerosis [a build-up of fats cholesterol in the walls of your arteries]. Most sudden heart attacks happen in people with no symptoms. 

Amongst other sources, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health states that 30 minutes of interval exercise five times per week is sufficient to maintain a healthy functioning body. Activities include recreational exercise such as walking, swimming, hiking, gardening and cycling. Overall, strong evidence demonstrates that compared to less active adult men and women, individuals who are more active: have lower rates of all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer, and depression (WHO, 2020).  

Possessing a high amount of visceral fat makes you susceptible to the development illnesses and health conditions or possibly active genetic conditions you may not be aware you carry. For example, type 2 diabetes. Not only can this disease be developed through a relatively unhealthy lifestyle, it can be hereditary. Generally, 1 in 5 people with [type 2 diabetes] don’t know they have it (CDC, 2019). 

Unfortunately, BMI does not determine the amount of visceral fat you’re carrying, but it can be used as a guide. BMI tells us ‘whether a person is overweight, underweight, or at a healthy weight’ (Alli, 2018). BMI helps determine someone’s overall health risk (2018).

Between walking the dog, climbing the stairs to your home and completing your daily errands, sometimes even getting out of bed can be a challenge. Imagine if doing two 20-second sprints three times a week rectify issues caused by a high BMI, while giving you more energy throughout your day. Using CAR.O.L can aid in preventing the possibility of common health conditions typically associated with the result of being overweight or obese in just three eight-minute and 40-second rides per week. As you complete your interval-focused rides, you are improving blood flow, lowering your cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering blood sugar.

If we adopt some form of moderate physical activity into our routine, we are not only preserving our bodies towards longevity, but we could be unknowingly reversing impending illnesses or body complications like skinny fat caused by a sedentary lifestyle.

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Reference Sourced in this Post

Gibala M. and Shulgan C. (2017) ‘The One-Minute Workout: Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That's Smarter, Faster, Shorter’. Penguin Books. pp. 68-70.

University Study (2020) ‘What is Type 2 Diabetes?’ Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California

Newsletter (2019) Harvard Medical School. Harvard Health Publishing. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it

Newsletter (2020) What is Diabetes? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html 

Feizo (2016) ‘Inner fat’ is a killer lurking in your belly. Here’s how to get rid of it. Spectator Life. Assessed: 26 July.