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The Dangers of "Skinny Fat"

Are you one of those people who only seem to gain weight around your middle while your arms and legs stay skinny looking?

Blame it on your genes. Research shows that thin people with fat paunches are at a higher risk of diabetes and cardiac disease than other people.

If you have skinny legs and a bit of a paunch but think that’s okay because your pot belly doesn’t really show with the baggy shirts and tops you wear, think again. You are prone to collecting fat around the abdominal area caused by a biochemical abnormality known as Metabolic Syndrome.

So, never mind the skinny legs because collecting fat around your abdomen is not a good sign as such fat is deadlier than subcutaneous fat which is distributed evenly beneath the skin. This is because increased belly flab means increased visceral fat found between the organs in the main torso. Visceral fat is more active and drains directly into the liver. Free fatty acids into the liver resist the action of insulin, a hormone that helps absorb the glucose from the blood stream. The end result is what causes diabetes.

Contracting diabetes leads to an elevated risk of a whole lot of other health problems including cardio-vascular diseases and kidney problems.

Skinny Fat Quotient

Worldwide, Body Mass Index or BMI is a commonly accepted measure of body health. A BMI of over 25 indicates that you are overweight or obese. But the "skinny fat" abnormality makes people more susceptible to diabetes even though their BMI is well within the international limit of 25. Therefore there is a need to more closely monitor people who have the skinny fat abnormality for diabetes - and some doctors are arguing that people with the skinny fat gene should be worried if their BMI is over 23 instead of 25 because of the greater risk of diabetes.

But we shouldn’t trust BMI alone to assess risk for diabetes. Instead doctors are encouraging patients with skinny fat to measure their weight using their waist circumference, measured in centimeters (cm). A measurement above 80 cm for women and 90 cm for men is a matter of grave concern.

Those people with a waist measurement above those numbers are more likely to have Metabolic Syndrome and a higher risk of cardiac problems than those who have normal subcutaneous fat under their skin.

Metabolic Syndrome symptoms and signs include low levels of HDL cholesterol (known as the good cholesterol), high triglyceride levels (a type of fat found in the blood), high blood pressure, diabetes and other cardio-vascular diseases.

Metabolic Syndrome effects young and old alike too. People with rich diets, low physical activity, spend all day working at a desk and dismiss a paunch as an aesthetic issue. But it’s more like a warning sign that they will get diabetes if they don't watch their weight.

Doctors and scientists recommend that people with "skinny fat" consider a change in diet to reduce saturated fats, a brisk walk for 45 minutes per day and a background check into your immediate family history of obesity or diabetes.

Culturally, we associate fat with prosperity and wealth, hence the term "Fat Cat". But those "Fat Cats" are developing insulin resistance and abdominal obesity at a young age because they are not exercising, dieting and watching their weight.


Last Friday (May 31st 2013) I may have saved a man's life who went into diabetic coma while on a TTC bus here in Toronto.

I was en route to pick up new arrows at Tent City in North York when I got on the 60 bus at Finch station and I noticed a young man sleeping on the bus. At first I thought he had just fallen asleep and didn't know he was at Finch station. I said something to him and he didn't respond. I shook him gently. I shook him roughly. No response.

I then notified the driver and he tried to wake the comatose man. We checked to see whether he was breathing. Still breathing. The driver called for paramedics and the bus went out of service.

Diabetic coma can be deadly. So hopefully he made a full recovery. I got on the next bus so I don't know how the story ended. I hope he turned out okay.

What scares me is what if I hadn't noticed him? When would someone have noticed the poor guy wasn't moving or responding?

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