The researchers, including those from Auckland University of Technology, have put forth a specific notion of overfat, a condition of having sufficient excess body fat to impair health. They argued that how, in addition to those who were overweight and obese, others falling into the overfat category included normal weight people. “The overfat pandemic has not spared tho se who exercise or even compete in sports,” said lead author of the study Philip Maffetone, CEO of MAFF Fitness Pty Ltd. “The overfat category includes normal weight people with increased risk factors for chronic disease, such as high abdominal fat, and those with characteristics of a condition called normal-weight metabolic obesity,” said Maffetone.
“We want to bring awareness of the rise in these risk factors, where the terms `overfat’ and `underfat’ describe new body composition states,” said Maffetone.
The study in Frontiers in Public Health also found out that 9 to 10% of the population may be underfat. “While we think of the condition of underfat as being due to starvation, those numbers are dropping rapidly. However, an ageing population, an increase in chronic disease and a rising number of excessive exercisers or those with anorexia athletica are adding to the number of nonstarving underfat individuals.”
This leaves as little as 14% of the world’s population with normal body-fat percentage. While it is estimated that up to 49% of the world’s population, or 3.5 billion people, are obese or overweight, the well-documented obesity epidemic may merely be the tip of the overfat iceberg.