In this day and age, physical appearance (AKA being skinny) seems to dictate more than we’d like to admit. Whether it’s the magazines we read, the trendy Instagram accounts we follow, or the shows we watch, we’re typically always being shown seemingly fit individuals, leading us to think we must also look that way.
This incessant desire to have the “perfect body,” is not only impossible, but is also often based off misconceptions people have about what it means to be healthy.
One misconception in particular that truly stands out is the misconception that if someone is “skinny,” they’re automatically deemed as “healthy,” while in reality, that’s actually far from the truth.
According to an article on Time, we need to stop focusing on what the scale reads, and start focusing on what kinds of fats we have. Some of the “skinny” people you encounter, may be the most dangerous kind of fat.
Turns out, people with seemingly fit bodies and incredibly fast metabolisms may have some of the medical issues that effect obese people daily: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and fluctuating blood sugar levels.
In a study conducted by Ruth Loos at the Medical Research Council in the UK involving over 75,000 people, scientists found that lean people with a specific genetic variant were at a higher risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, despite their lower body fat. Additionally, their fat isn’t being stored under the skin, but is instead being stored deeper inside the body around the organs and in the muscles. This deep-seeded fat (also known as visceral fat), is what gives “skinny fat” people their misleadingly lean physique.
Unfortunately for us, our risk of developing visceral fat is beyond our control and varies mainly by our gender and genetic makeup. Men are more prone to developing visceral fat, while women typically store fat under the skin. And, our genetic makeup plays a role in metabolic factors, such as cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and insulin resistance.
So, how do we avoid the “skinny fat” plague? We must not get complacent with our routine check-ups with our primary care physicians, in order to make sure we are getting our blood work done at least once a year to check our metabolic levels. In addition to that, work out, stay active, and eat as clean as possible, but don’t forget to treat yourself every now and then.