Metabolically obese normal-weight

July 2, 2014

As it turns out, “skinny fat” is a real thing. And it’s a bit more dangerous than being “fat and fit,” according to a study that claims one in four people with “normal weight” are metabolically obese. In fact, those of normal weight who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to die from it than obese people.

Simply measuring our health by one or two baseline metrics is rarely doing ourselves justice. The body is a complex system that works in complex ways, and rarely is the solution that simple (this is one of the reasons why I dislike most fitness trackers.) In this case, it’s our bodyweight that is the issue—too often do we define our health and self-worth by the number we see on the scale, and the scientific community is now seeing that this is simply not the case. In many instances, the “toned” woman in the Pilates class is less healthy than the overweight man who, as it turns out, has some metabolically-functional muscle on his frame.

My vote is always for functionality and healthfulness over aesthetics. On either end of the spectrum, an aesthetic-based fitness worldview is not painting a complete picture—indeed, that means that neither “fat-shaming” nor “fat-acceptance” is the answer.