'Skinny Fat' People Run a High Risk of Developing Diabetes

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'Skinny Fat' People Run a High Risk of Developing Diabetes

“Skinny fat” people are those who look skinny based on outward appearance, but, because of their diet, have the same health concerns as someone who is overweight or obese. Put simply: thin on the outside, fat on the inside.

This phenomenon is incredibly dangerous, because the skinny fat person is deceived. He or she can easily think that his or her body is completely healthy because of its shape, when in reality it’s suffering just as harshly as if it were obese.

A study was conducted at the University of Florida in order to explore an explanation as to why nearly one third of slim Americans have prediabetes. Prediabetes is defined as the grey area between health and illness: it is the precursor stage during which blood sugar is abnormally high—levels above 5.7, according to the American Diabetes Association—but not all of symptoms associated with full-blown diabetes are apparent.

Arch Mainous III, the study’s lead investigator and the chair of health services research, management and policy in UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions, commented said that the researchers “have found that a lot of people who we would consider to be at healthy weight—they’re not overweight or obese—are not metabolically healthy.”

The culprit? Researches hypothesize that it could be inactivity, alongside a poor diet.

Though there is no direct cause-and-effect relationship established as a result of the study, about a quarter of people tested who lived sedentary lifestyles met the criteria for prediabetes.

The grand takeaway from this is that we should not see our scales as the determinant of our health. High blood sugar is not something that a scale can detect. It is incredibly important to remain active, eat well and attend regular checkups during which you monitor your blood sugar to be sure your levels are healthy.

Photo: Alden Chadwick, CC-BY

Elizabeth Chambers is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.