Skip Nav
Weight gain
5 Ways to Get Rid of Your Muffin Top
Class Fitsugar
This Core Workout For Runners Will Make Your Abs Burn
Class Fitsugar
You'll Get a Cardio High From This 60-Minute Epic Boxing Workout

Normal Weight Obesity Is a Health Problem Too

Slim Doesn't Necessarily Mean Not Fat

Obesity has been a huge (no pun intended) problem in the US, and now it seems to be spreading across the world. For the most part, it's apparent when people need to lose weight, but there are others you may not suspect who are also overweight. About 30 million Americans who seem to be normal weight actually have a high percentage of body fat. It's known as "normal weight obesity," and it puts people at risk for the same health problems as those who are noticeably obese — we're talking diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

The point here is that being thin doesn't mean you're healthy. Even if your body looks slim on the outside, internal fat known as visceral fat can surround your organs. If you think you're at risk for being overweight even though you don't tip the scales, you should have your body fat percentage checked. Women should maintain a body fat percentage that's below 33.3 percent.

The best way to combat body fat is to eat a healthy diet and make sure you exercise regularly. Weight and resistance training should definitely be included in your workouts to help build lean muscle. Not only will it keep your body fat percentage at a healthy level, but you'll feel healthier, stronger, and more energetic too.

Join The Conversation
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
The good thing about visceral fat, is that it is the first to go if you pick up an exercise regime.
zeze zeze 7 years
I've always known this, and honestly, I think even BF% is not a complete indicator of health. Like BMI and weight, BF% is useful for something, but it doesn't tell you how "fit" or how strong your body is. Take me for example, I'm considered slim, my BF% is 21-22 (I use the scale), yet I'm not fit at all! Like I get tired walking up 3 flights of stairs. I am sure there are people out there that have a higher BMI, BF%, and higher weight, but are technically healthier than me.
Nastyyy Nastyyy 7 years
I totally agree! My mom ended up getting diabetes because of this very issue. I think the reason why people can be in a normal weight range but still have a high BFP is because frame size isn't taken into consideration when calculating BMI or "ideal" weight. For example: my mom is thin, eats whatever she wants, doesn't work out (unless I nag her lol), and doesn't gain weight. However, she was carrying some fat around her midsection prior to being diagnosed, but it wasn't noticeable because she is small-framed. I stumbled across an article (I'll post the link if I can find it again) about how to determine if you're small-, medium-, or large-framed and that you should deduct (for small frames) or add (for large frames) 10% to the "ideal" weight for your height.
staple-salad staple-salad 7 years
Never knew you could be thin and overfat or look overfat but be healthy. I have quite a bit of arm and stomach fat, my BMI is around 38, and my BFP is around 35%. So I'm just barely in the unhealthy range for body fat, but almost morbidly obese BMI wise.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
THANK YOU! I've always tried to convince my friends/family that you cannot just go by weight or BMI. You can be in the "normal" weight range and still be overly fat, just like you can be overweight and not overly fat. At work, we get our body fat % checked every year so we can tell if we're normal or not. Mine's usually at around 16-17%, which is on the lower end, but when I was technically "overweight", my body fat was something like 27%, which isn't that high. @chloe--your scale isn't broken or anything. Your BF% can change slightly throughout the day depending on how hydrated you are. It's because those scales use electrical impedence to measure your fat and if your tissues are more/less hydrated, you'll get a slightly different reading. Like runningesq said, underwater weighing or calipers work better, but the scales give you a pretty fair estimate.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 7 years
I agree. So many of my thin friends are on medication for cholesterol problems, whereas I'm curvy, but have a pretty good body fat % and cholesterol levels
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Scalres are really inaccurate.. but I guess it can't hurt to use one to notice trends. The best way, I think, to figure out bf% is a water displacement test... the more available way is for calipers, BUT ONLY IF the person using them knows what s/he is doing. And I know "bigger" women that are much healthier than skinny women. Go to a triathlon or a marathon -- there are people with all body types !
syako syako 7 years
Personally I think measuring body fat is more of a once-a-quarter type thing than every day or week. So if the scales you use are within a range, I don't think it's a terrible thing either.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Yoga - That's true! I guess I was just frustrated because the whole reason I sprang for a scale that measures body fat % is so I could see whether my workout regimen was making any difference . . . but with the 3% range, it's hard to tell. I guess it's better than nothing though!
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
Being off 1.5% and having an approximate idea of your body fat is better than not knowing it at all :-) Those models don't surprise me - especially the runway models.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I read in an interview with a celebrity trainer that a lot of models are actually like this - many have a high percentage of body fat because they're young, naturally thin girls who have never had to exercise or think about what they eat before. About scales that measure body fat - does anyone have one that actually works? I spent $65 on one last year, and it fluctuates between 22-25% body fat in a single day. I had my % checked by a trainer at my old gym, and it was 23.5%. So I guess it is in the range predicted by my scale, but still, that's a big difference. Now I don't even bother weighing myself at all.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I agree syako. I think maybe our health care system should be focusing on body fat percentage rather than BMI. It's not so hard to determine body fat % anymore - you can buy scales that can tell you that.
syako syako 7 years
That's really interesting! Luckily all my stats and body fat % are in check and in the healthy zone. I would think that this normal weight obesity is truly more dangerous because I would think some of these people assume they're healthy and don't get checked out or do the things that will make them healthy (i.e. exercise and eat right).
Amazon Buys Whole Foods
Lottery Horror Stories
Summer Superfoods
Dani Mathers Convicted For Invasion of Privacy
From Our Partners
Latest Fitness
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds