May 10, 2007

Thin Outside, Fat Inside: MRI, BMI, and "Fat Maps"

You know those annoying people who never exercise but manage to stay trim and fit anyway? Well, you no longer have to hate them. (Okay you can still feel a little resentful). Turns out, many of those people could be risking heart disease and diabetes after all. In fact up to 45% of the women and 60% of men in this study were found to be harboring Secret Sneaky Fat around their vital organs, even though they had normal Body Mass Index scores. And unlike those of us who pack visible pounds when we misbehave, they didn't even know that they were endangering their health.

This research comes courtesy of Jimmy Bell at the Imperial College, London, who has a nifty MRI machine that can create "fat maps" see where people are hiding fat that isn't visible just to look at them.

Bell said researchers even found these "TOFI's" among professional models. He says those who are fat on the inside are in essence on the threshold of being obese. They eat too many fatty, sugary foods, and exercise too little to work it off.

But since they look so good, apparently they don't feel the need to take the sort of steps many of us here like to moan about.

So sad. Perhaps more of them will need to start reading Cranky Fitness!


  1. Dear Crabby,
    I'm just soooo worried about these little unhealthy thin people who have no idea what it's like to work out regularly, eat heathily, and rarely give in to temptation. Yikes, can you FEEL my concern? I think, perhaps, that those of us who wear the fat outside also have it inside, so we're no better off.

    yours, Fatty Crablet

  2. Ooh, fatty crablet, I can indeed feel your concern!

    But if you're doing a lot of the smart stuff, I think there are fitness advantages in terms of muscle mass and cardio conditioning and anti-cancer phytochemicals and all kinds of good stuff that you're getting, even if by virtue of lousy genes you may also be carrying some extra fat cells. The skinny non-exercisers may be able to wear size 2, but they aren't getting any of that good stuff. You'll be kicking ass in middle age (and beyond) and they'll just be waking up to all the damage that they've done to themselves.

    That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

    Thanks so much for visiting!

  3. I'm with you Crabby. There is allot of benefits to taking care of ourself besides being thin. I am actually somewhat glad to here that the rules apply to everyone. It also doesn't mean they won't be fat later, they are just are not fat now.
    BTW, I knew someone that was considered thin and when she had her body fat analyzed she was 50% body fat! She had practically no muscle! Ew. She was practically a jelly fish.

  4. Hi samantha!
    Wow, 50% body fat in a thin person? You'd think even just bones and organs would make up at least fifty percent--she must have had no muscles at all!


  5. Thank you, Crabby! Now I can wear my flabby arms with pride!

  6. Dawn, I bet your arms are quite strong and muscular from lifting all those cream filled apple donuts!

  7. This is BIG in Japan. All any talks about are these indexes and internal body fat around organs. I have one of those scales that tell you your BMI as well as your weight. So I'm in no position to point fingers (ahem!).

  8. Very interesting post, and I hadn't heard of that study! You find all kinds of fascinating tidbits of information. :)

  9. Hi Kappa no he--
    That's interesting, sounds like they've already figured out the internal organ fat issue in Japan. Wonder why in the U.S. we're just now figuring out this is a problem? I'm just wondering, do women in Japan exercise a lot?

    And hi, Thomma Lyn!
    Yeah, there sure are lots of weird studies out there! Do enough surfing and you find all kinds of strange stuff.

  10. You know what this study screams at me? "YOU'RE FAT EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT FAT! OH NOES! TEH FATZ!" :)


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