Skinny fat, BMI’s, scales and number crunching
There are so many ways that you can measure your body these days! You can work out your BMI, body fat %, weigh yourself countless times or measure your hips, arms thighs etc. So many measurements and ‘guidelines’ of what size you should be for your age and height which is amazing since no one person is the same! You could have 2 women that are the same height, eat well and exercise the same amount. However one is busty and a bigger build, the other a more slender frame. Both live healthy lifestyles, yet one may be over their ‘healthy BMI’ and the others measurements could indicate they are underweight!
Regardless of your natural build, the focus should be more on your overall body composition, rather than just your BMI, which scientists have questioned the validity of[i]. Most studies relating to mortality and weight have been focused around your weight and height, when actually ‘building muscle mass is important in decreasing metabolic risk’[ii].
In an examination survey, it was found that those with a higher muscle mass to height ratio had a lower mortality rate than those with a lower percentage of muscle mass[iii]. This illustrates that we should stop hopping on the scales every couple of hours to see if we lost half a pound and focus more on gaining and maintaining muscle! If you look more in to the actual muscle and fat percentages of your body, you may not be as healthy as you think! The issue of ‘skinny fat’ or ‘normal weight obesity’ is a growing concern[iv]. You may be able to smash a McDonalds or whole domino’s pizza without gaining any weight and so don’t feel the need to go to the gym. (If only we all had this super power! I see pizza in my peripherals and gain 5 lbs). However, (despite this superhuman advantage) for some the lack of exercise and a healthy diet can lead to being at just as much risk of health problems as someone classed as obese. This can be due to the level of fat in your body, particularly the fat that builds around your organs. As many as ¼ of people can be part of this group according to a 2008 study[v]. So even if you have a fast metabolism or don’t feel you need to exercise to stay in shape, you should get physical and eat your vegetables to lower body fat and increase muscle!
In my own opinion, I think that measuring health by your BMI is hugely outdated! We all know muscle weighs more than fat and I even tested my BMI to see for myself. It said I was just in to the overweight category but I am 5 7” and a size 10…doesn’t add up to me. Being healthy is based on far more than your height and weight. So regardless of whether you can annihilate the pastry section and be hungry an hour later or count exact calories, get moving and eating your vegetables!
[i] Muscle Mass Index As a Predictor of Longevity in Older Adults – Preethi Srikanthan, MD, MScorrespondenceemail, Arun S. Karlamangla, MD, PhD
[ii] Muscle Mass Index As a Predictor of Longevity in Older Adults – Preethi Srikanthan, MD, MScorrespondenceemail, Arun S. Karlamangla, MD, PhD
[iii] Data taken from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III, conducted between 1988 and 1994