I’ve been thin my entire life and it had nothing to do with my diet & exercise habits. In my teenage years, I had family tell me to eat “it” (junk food) while I could. In college, friends would often wish they had my genes. And in my late twenties, I was skinny and…sick.
Why was I sick? Simple! I’d spent more than a decade eating crap.
We know that the Standard American Diet, which is high in processed sugars and rancid vegetable oils, leads to metabolic syndrome and the myriad of diseases that follow including: diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and neurological disorders. Yet, we still think that weight is an accurate warning signal that imbalance exists in the body. It isn’t. Dr. Mark Hyman is speaking up about the Skinny Fat phenomenon and I imagine we’ll continue to learn more about this issue.
Skinny is a problem when:
1. You eat processed, artificial, fast, junk “food” and think it isn’t negatively impacting you because you aren’t gaining weight.
2. You see exercise as something overweight people do to burn calories and lose weight. Since you don’t need to lose weight you think, “why bother.”
The truth is, a person who is metabolically obese (high blood sugar, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure) might also tip the scale into obesity but not necessarily. Here is the kicker, if you’re skinny and suffer from pre-diabetes, imbalanced cholesterol, or high blood pressure you have a HIGHER risk of death than your overweight counterparts. Yes, you read that correctly!
At this point, you might be wondering how big of a problem this really is. I mean, metabolically-obese normal-weight individuals can’t be that common, right? Well, a recent study found that 1 in 4 children were pre-diabetic or diabetic. That’s really sad and also quite terrifying. And yes, many of those children were also overweight. If we focus just on the normal-weight kids the number jumps to, wait for it, 1 in 7. Seriously?!? 1 in 7 skinny kids have pre-diabetes or full-blown Type 2 diabetes! Clearly, weight is not an accurate measure of health.
One of my favorite documentaries, Hungry For Change, talks about the lie marketers are selling when they portray a skinny model eating processed crap. The implication is; if you eat this you’ll be popular & skinny. But the reality, the documentary states, is that you’ll be fat & sick.
I agree, if we eat junk we’ll end up sick but we might not end up fat. This, in short, is why skinny can be a problem. Your health is not tied to your weight and the sooner we realize that and begin focusing on how we actually feel the better off we’ll be.