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Study finds 90 percent of men overfat in some developed countries

Overfat is having a higher proportion of fat in the body than is normal or healthy

Researchers examining data from 30 of the top developed countries have reported that up to 90 percent of adult males, 80 percent of women and 50 percent of children may be overfat. The term overfat refers to the presence of excess body fat that can impair health, and may include even normal-weight non-obese individuals. Excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases, increased morbidity and mortality, and reduced quality of life.

Reporting their findings in the journal Frontiers in Public Health (Overfat Adults and Children in Developed Countries: The Public Health Importance of Identifying Excess Body Fat; July 2017), they state that the  e problem is particularly pervasive in the English-speaking countries of the US and New Zealand, but also in Iceland and even Greece (Figure 1) where people are generally thought to be healthy. This trend may be bad news for developing countries as well, since they have followed the trend of developed nations in the growing overfat pandemic.

Figure 1: Overfat prevalence categories in 30 of the most developed countries according to the Human Development Index

Researchers Philip Maffetone, Ivan Rivera-Dominguez and Paul B. Laursen reported earlier this year in the journal Frontiers of Public Health that up to 76 percent of the world's population may be overfat. Now these same researchers have focused their efforts on data from 30 of the top developed countries, with even more alarming findings.

A recent rise in the incidence of abdominal adiposity, the unhealthiest form of excess body fat, has been observed in both adults and children, indicating a direct link to insulin-resistance, the body's natural propensity to convert and store carbohydrate foods as fat.

The relationship between the overfat condition and poor health is a spectrum or progression in which the vicious cycle of excess body fat, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation lie at one end, causing abnormal blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides) and glucose, and elevated blood pressure, which then produces a variety of common diseases at the other end (Figure 2).

Figure 2: General schematic of relationships between diet, overfat, some risk factors, and chronic illness. Rather than thinking of these disorders as separate, individual clinical problems, it might be best to consider the relationships between overfat, its various risks, and its associated downstream diseases as a spectrum or progression where the vicious cycle of overfat, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation lies at one end, (constituting the population with early measurable abnormality), while the presence of chronic conditions resides at the other end. (Credit: Maffetone, Rivera-Dominguez and Laursen; CC BY)

Being overfat is linked to hypertension, dyslipidaemia, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and gout, pulmonary diseases, sleep pane and others.

Many physically active people, including professional athletes in various sports and active military personnel, also may fall into the overfat category.

Traditional means of assessment, such as stepping on a scale or calculating BMI, are ineffective at determining whether someone is overfat. Instead, researchers recommend taking a measure of the waistline (at the level of the belly button) and comparing it to height.

“The estimate of overfat in the world’s 30 top developed nations is substantially higher than the prevalence of overweight and obese adults and children worldwide and stresses the seriousness of the overfat pandemic,” the authors conclude. “Regardless of BMI values, overfat individuals have excess body fat, a high degree of cardiometabolic dysregulation that can promote disease risk factors and chronic disease, increased morbidity and mortality, reduced quality of life, and pose a rising economic burden. As an unfulfilled public health action, it is crucial to clinically identify individuals who are overfat in order to implement successful treatment and prevention strategies.”

This article was edited from the original article, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).

To access this paper, please click here

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