Weight Loss

Are you overweight or overfat?

Are you overweight or overfat?(Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)

We all have often heard of words like full figured, obese, overweight but there is a new term that is being increasingly used, overfat. It may have some similarity in the name with overweight, but they are not the same. While overweight people are distinguished on the basis of their Body Mass Index (BMI), overfat people may have an average weight but a dangerously high level of fat percentage below or above the belt or may be around other body parts. According to health experts, body fat for women should be approximately 20 per cent, and for men, it should be 15 per cent. Women and men with more than 30 per cent and 25 per cent of body fat respectively are considered obese.

Most people who are overweight are considered to have excess body fat but that doesn’t make them overfat. Your body weight is a combination of muscles, bone, internal organs as well as the water in the body along with body fat. Now because muscles are more dense, it is quite possible for a muscular person to be overweight without being overfat. Having said that, a big number of overweight people are indeed overfat. A recent study done by researchers from Auckland University of Technology shared, “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.”

Most people assume that assessing the body composition using BMI has an advantage over the standard height-weight tables. However, questioning the inadequacy of BMI, a study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently. The researcher wrote, “There are people, especially some highly trained athletes, who are overweight but not overfat. Likewise, there are people who are of a normal weight according to BMI scales but who are overfat. BMI is a broad, general measure of risk. Body-fat assessment is much more specific to your actual fat content and thus provides a more accurate picture.”

So how do we assess an overfat body? The methods include skinfold thickness measurements, weighing, underwater (hydrostatic) and circumference measurements. This requires a specialised person who assesses the total with proper calculations. When he receives the numbers, body fat percentage is determined. You can also do self-assessment to check if you are overfat or not. Pinch the thickness of the fat that folds at your waist and abdomen. If you can pinch an inch or more of fat (no muscle should be included) chances are you have too much body fat.

People who exercise regularly can increase the lean body mass and decrease their overall fat level. However, with the proper combination of diet and exercise, both excess fat and overall weight can be reduced.


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