Are you “overfat?”
You may be physically active but could still be considered “overfat”.
That’s according to a 2017 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, an 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.”
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.