Skinny fat doesn't mean much to some people, and to others it just doesn't make sense. But it is a good way of describing some people and their body types so we aren't fooled into believing health is all about being skinny. Our current misuse of the word 'fat' along with our unhealthy obsession with our weight means that generally we aspire to something that isn't necessarily in our best interest health wise.
When we talk about someone that's skinny most people will get the same image in their head of someone with little mass on their body, maybe a long distance runner. That's a pretty good image and a pretty accurate description for someone that's skinny. However when talk about being fat most people immediately see an image of someone that is overweight and generally with more mass on their frame than would be considered healthy. We generally use the word fat to replace the word overweight. Normally this isn't such an issue, but when it comes to 'skinny fat' people it does create an issue and can get confusing. So for the rest of this article, and really in life, we need to understand that a 'fat' person is someone that has unhealthy levels of fat on their frame, regardless of overall size and / or weight.
Once we understand the new description of fat we can start to make sense of the phrase skinny fat. What we mean when we say skinny fat is someone that has lower than normal / healthy lean mass (muscle) on their body but still has higher than healthy levels of fat. Some people may struggle to think f how a skinny person could be fat, but remember it's about the % body fat on their body. Lots of this fat could be stored around organs etc and not necessarily 'on show'. These people do exist and you'd be surprised how many of your health and skinny friends may not be quite as healthy as you think.
So why are we talking about skinny fat? We're talking about it to try and help people overcome their obsession with weight. Weight isn't the be all and end all of health and fitness. In fact, weight is a pretty shoddy measure. We're pretty sure from experience that most people aim to be skinny. They want to drop the levels of mass on their frame to look skinny. What most people don't realise is that skinny doesn't mean healthy. We all know that person that can eat whatever processed, sugary food they want and never put weight on. We're all generally pretty envious of that too. Don't be. Chances are that person is no more healthy (probably less healthy) than you or I. Sure they don't put the weight on, but we'd bet a lot of money you could still class them as 'fat'. Put them through a full body composition scan and chances are you'll see excess fat build up (compared to their overall mass) around their organs and tummy area. This comes with the same set of complications as a 'typical' fat person - impacting health and eventually leading to disease.
What's more - due to the fact their classed as skinny and healthy by the NHS they won't get the same attention as overweight people. This could be what leads to a higher mortality rate for these people compared to those that are slightly overweight. Yes, that's right, overweight people have a better chance of living longer than skinny people. Bet you didn't know that! It's likely in part due to the extra attention from their Dr making it easier to pick up diseases earlier.
Anyway, just to summarise today we'd like to finish off by saying that fat is not synonomous to overweight. Skinny is not synonymous to healthy and weight is not the best way to measure your overall health. Don't get hung up on how much you weigh. Instead take care to keep your body fat percantage in a health area and keep your lean (muscle) mass up too. Don't get caught out and become 'skinny fat' - it's just not healthy!