New research has revealed that simply being thin, does not guarantee reduced risk of obesity or obesity related illnesses like type 2 diabetes or heart disease.  Scientists have discovered a new epidemic, ‘TOFI’ ‘Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside.’
Researchers warn that inadequate physical activity and a poor diet mean that slim people have hidden fat (Fat Inside Body), which puts them at risk for obesity and obesity related illness.  While researchers are seeing this epidemic in growing numbers in children, it also affects adults.

Children are at the Highest Risk

A British Study measured the body mass index (BMI) and internal body fat of school aged children and the results were quite alarming.  The study estimates the number of overweight or obese school-age children at about three million in Britain alone, nearly 30% of all 5 to 18 year-olds.

While the BMI measurement has always been the standard measurement to determine body composition, the latest research is using a more accurate method to measure the actual fat that people are carrying around their internal organs.  BMI measurements record the height and weight of people as they age.  However the measurement is unable to distinguish between people who are overweight due to excess fat and those who are muscular.  The new measurement known as a Bio-Electrical Impedance, uses a machine to pass a low electrical current through the body to determine how much weight is fat and how much is muscle.

While children and adults can appear to be height and weight proportionate according to the BMI, the numbers can be deceiving.  Research shows that people classed as having a healthy BMI can carry high levels of fat, but low levels of muscle.  One 8 year old boy in the study recorded a healthy BMI of 17.7 but was found to have 23% body fat combined with low muscle mass.   These high percentages of fat make the children technically obese, despite not appearing overweight.  People who are visibly overweight have higher amounts of subcutaneous fat than muscle.  The dangerous fat in people who do not appear to be overweight is visceral fat, fat that surrounds the organs.

Visceral fat is known as the hidden killer, not only does it surround the organs, it is metabolized by the liver, into cholesterol.  Once in the bloodstream, cholesterol builds up in the arteries, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease.  Visceral fat also produces more hormones and proteins than subcutaneous fat.  These hormones affect glucose levels, which can trigger the start of type 2 diabetes and other health issues such as cardiovascular disease.  The hormones released by visceral fat are also linked to higher levels of emotional stress, poor concentration and impaired organ function.

Prevention and Intervention

While it is hard to treat and reduce visceral fat, early detection is key.  While children are at the highest risk, other high-risk groups include people who drink excessively, smokers and women entering menopause.  Having you or your child’s correct body composition tested will let you know how serious your health condition is and what steps need to be taken for optimal health.  You can treat TOFI safely and effectively at home with diet and exercise.

Although low carb diet isn’t for everyone, if you’re at risk of TOFI, starting with a low carb diet is a sure way to eliminate or minimize the biggest culprit… sugar.  If you do nothing but reduce your sugar and refined carb intake alone, it should greatly improve your metabolism.

In addition to fixing your diet, exercise is also an effective way to increase your metabolism.  Incorporating an effective exercise program not only helps you burn more fat and build lean muscle, but it also reduces stress (which also helps burn fat) and improves cognitive functioning.

The ultimate solution to TOFI is eating a diet largely composed of whole foods and low in refined sugar and carbs, along with an easy to follow exercise regimen that can be maintained for the long term.

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TOFI – Thin Outside Fat Inside
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