Are you “overfat?”

Are you “overfat?”

You may be physically active but could still be considered “overfat.”

That’s according to a recent study published in the Frontiers in Public Health journal. Researchers from New Zealand and Australia determined that in the U.S. and other developed countries, nearly 90 percent of men, 80 percent of women and 50 percent of children are considered overfat.

The researchers say being overfat is different from being overweight; it isn’t necessarily directly related to a person’s weight. The term is defined as having excess body fat that poses a health risk – especially abdominal fat. Their research analyzed individuals’ waistline measurements in relation to their height. If the waist circumference was more than half an individual’s height, they were considered overfat.

“Overfat is meant to capture those people with normal BMI but more abdominal fat,” says Dr. Erin Drever, endocrinologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Abdominal obesity and particularly higher amounts of visceral fat (fat in the abdomen that coats the abdominal organs) is closely linked to higher cholesterol, insulin resistance and inflammation.”

Prior studies have determined that belly fat is one of the most dangerous types of fat because of its interaction with organs and likelihood of leading to insulin resistance and other deadly conditions.

“Measuring the abdominal circumference and comparing it to height, as used for diagnosing “overfat,” is an indirect measure of this. This concept has been previously described using the waist-to-hip ratio. If your mid-section is thicker than your hips, you are likely to have higher amounts of abdominal fat and be at higher metabolic risk. I find this measure useful as it can be observed directly and often without a measuring tape and is relatable to patients.”

Dr. Drever does not use the term “overfat” with her patients (“I feel it adds more complexity to an already complex subject.”)

Instead, she points to the general takeaway from the study.

“Carrying excess weight around your midsection increases your metabolic risk, regardless of the label used.”

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  1. Yes………I definitely fit the category of having too much abdominal fat. The article describes what it is but does not tell me what to do about this problem. What should one do to get rid of this extra baggage around the middle? Please advise!

  2. Very interesting article! I’ve learned that it’s extremely important to have a healthy diet and exercise regimen with the help of professionals to guide me in the early stages to figure out exactly what to do.

  3. Would liposuction be considered a preventative service if you’re an active person that is still over fat? Serious question. What about people that distribute fat differently, like have super meaty thighs but a slimmer upper body?

    • Alexandria, liposuction would not help. This article is referring to the fat inside your body around your organs “visceral fat”. You would still need to adjust the big picture to decrease that visceral fat which would make you prone to the metabolic conditions mentioned.

  4. I also wish the article had included guidelines for readers to help them take steps to reduce visceral fat. I know better than to fall prey to diet fads and worthless diet pills, etc. but we really need sound advice to help ourselves move toward better health.

  5. I agree with some of the above comments………..ok, so what do we do about our excess abdominal fat??? Why go into it, then not tell us how to rectify the problem? Please response for us all….. Thank you.

  6. Lucia Schmidtke August 3, 2017 at 8:56 am · Reply

    How does one get RID of this problem?

  7. Oops! My BMI has been good, but my midriff to height comparison needs work! Thanx!

About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs manager at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks and playing with her dog, Bear and cats, Demi and Elle.