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Fat in focus

It’s not about your weight but your curves!

Heavy weight and large body frame always equate to obesity. That is what most people believe because this perception has been deeply ingrained in our minds even before the BMI (body mass index) was conceptualized and accepted as a tool to assess health risks based on one’s height and weight.

What if I tell you that the truth you believe in may be flawed and that bigger people may even be healthier than skinny ones? Are you now wondering why a dietitian like me would say something as ludicrous as this?

Obesity (MB file/2016.mb.com.ph)

The truth is there are skinny people who have high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and even blood glucose while there are heavier people who have no medical conditions whatsoever. Now you ponder on how that is even possible.

Your weight and BMI should not be disregarded when assessing health risks yet these two parameters should not be the sole basis for diagnosing if someone is healthy or unhealthy or, you got it, obese!

Obesity is defined as having too much body fat. Did I mention the word weight? No, because the focus should not be limited to it but should include body composition, which is comprised of water, body fat, and lean body mass (muscles, bones, body organs). The body composition in correlation with BMI and other diagnostic tests ordered by your physician is a better measurement in identifying risks to developing lifestyle-related diseases.

Fat in Focus

A person may be categorized as BMI obese but have normal total body fat. This may be the case for some athletes or individuals who have high muscle mass. Some people are genetically large framed or some even call it heavy boned or big boned. Others have an exercise program that increases their muscles while decreasing fat without incurring much change in their weight. These people are not necessarily unhealthy. This should not be used, however, as an excuse to abuse lifestyle and not care about one’s weight.

Aside from total body fat, the visceral or abdominal fat should be given more attention as it is the culprit that increases ones risk to heart disease and diabetes. When you have excess fat in the belly area, you lose a protein called adiponectin which has protective properties against said diseases. Instead, the internal organs are enveloped in fat. Even individuals who have normal weight or are underweight could have high visceral fat thus the reason why they have elevated lipids (triglycerides, cholesterol) or blood sugar.

Individuals who are on the heavy side yet have their body fat distributed around the body instead of concentrated on the abdomen may not have any manifestations of the diseases abovementioned. So you see, it’s not just about your weight. It’s about your curves! Trim those waistlines instead of focusing on weight alone.

When you get into a weight management program, do not lose hope when you don’t experience drastic weight loss. Do not be perplexed when you see your clothes fitting better because you are losing inches while the scale reports minimal improvement. You are losing body fat and gaining muscle mass, which will boost your metabolism and promote gradual and sustainable weight loss.

If you are losing much weight, check your body composition perhaps you are losing water and muscle instead of body fat. If that is the case, your dietitian and fitness coach need to make adjustments to your program.

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