Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

What Is Skinny Fat?

Photo by Diana Polekhina

Being skinny does not always mean being healthy. Skinny fat or normal weight obesity refers to those that have a normal weight and BMI for their height but have a high percentage of body fat and not enough muscle mass.

Risk factors

  • Not exercising enough-exercise causes your body to release anabolic hormones which in turn stimulate muscle building
  • Unbalanced diet-diet high in refined sugar can negatively impact body composition
  • Age-older adults are prone to muscle loss(sarcopenia) which is accompanied by an increase in body fat
  • Genetics-some people are predisposed to having higher body fat percentage and less muscle

Health risks of skinny fat

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Low muscle mass-muscle is important for metabolism and activities

What can you do?

  • Move your body
    • exercise
  • Strength training
    • builds and maintains muscle(remember to pair protein with it)
  • Work on a balanced diet
    • limit highly processed foods
    • reduce refined carbs and refined sugar
    • look for nutrient-dense foods(fruits and vegetables) and fat burning foods(lentils, cinnamon, chili peppers, oatmeal, broccoli)
    • don’t skimp on the protein
  • Sleep
    • work on getting 7-9 hours of good quality sleep
  • Relax and work on decreasing stress