What It Really Means To Be 'Skinny Fat'

Doctors are not able to make an accurate diagnosis merely by glancing at their patients; they have to gather pertinent information like symptoms and medical history, and evaluate the situation, and possibly perform tests before declaring an illness like diabetes or arthritis (per John Hopkins Medicine). From the outside, you may look like the epitome of health, but inside could tell a different story. Whether your unique body shape is thin, athletic, or curvy, you can still have a variety of medical conditions. 

'Skinny fat" (wince) is a term that has nothing to do with subjective standards of beauty. Rather, the term refers to people who appear relatively healthy in body weight, but are actually at risk for health problems that can typically be found in an obese person (via Women's Health). According to Ishwarlal Jialal, MD, director of the Laboratory for Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research at UC Davis Health System, people who are 'skinny fat' are "at high risk for diabetes and cardiovascular problems, but you wouldn't know it from their appearance," (via Health). A study out of the University of Michigan School of Public Health shows that those with what is considered a healthy weight can have medical issues common to those of obese people, such as abnormal cholesterol levels and high blood sugars. 

Staying healthy regardless of your body shape

The term 'skinny fat' may sound ridiculous, but it is a real problem occurring in thin people who make poor lifestyle choices or do not take care of their bodies. Eduardo L. Grunvald, MD, and director of the UC San Diego weight management program says, "not all fat is created equal, and not all people are created equal in the sense of body composition," (per LIVESTRONG). Dr. Grunvald also reports that 'skinny fat' people tend to have fat surrounding their organs and around the midsection, which is far more concerning than fat just under the skin.

According to Women's Health, you may be 'skinny fat' if you aren't getting enough exercise, eat an unhealthy diet, and have excess belly fat. If you suspect you may be at risk for 'skinny fat' health conditions, talk to you doctor about your concerns. In the meantime, to decrease your risk for developing certain diseases, medical professionals and experts share some lifestyle changes you can make such as creating a regular fitness routine, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and eating a plant-based diet with whole grains.