Numbers don’t always tell the truth when it comes to your health, according to new research. Some people may have a normal body mass index (BMI), which is a common measure used to assess wellness, but it doesn’t accurately portray health, according to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study found that if a person has a higher body-fat percentage, his or her mortality risk increases. BMI does not incorporate body-fat percentages—it only factors in height and weight. Case in point: A 50-year-old woman with a BMI of 24, which is considered healthy, could have 33 percent body fat—deemed overweight.
Skinny fat, a term that has become popular for thin people who have medical issues, is not a new phenomenon in the United States. A 2008 study found that 25 percent of U.S. adults with normal weight have heart-related health issues such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. That means that as many as 16 million people are at risk for heart problems.
Doctors recommend those who are “skinny fat” to avoid eating sugary, processed foods, and to keep a consistent gym routine. If you’re a cardio-fiend, consider lifting weights to increase muscle mass. Finally, if smoking is your vice, stop now.
Are you skinny fat? Get your body fat percentage checked by a certified personal trainer.