Skinny fat, is the scale all its cracked up to be

When it comes to your health, looks can be deceiving. The mirror and the bathroom scale only tell part of the story: you can look great in a bikini, but if you live an unhealthy lifestyle, your body may be at high risk for a number of health problems.

Looking Good Is Not All That Matters

My patients are often surprised when I explain that weight isn’t necessarily a good indicator of health. How your weight is distributed – your body composition and body fat percentages – is much more important than an attractive appearance.

“Skinny fat” is actually a popular term that refers to a serious medical condition called sarcopenic obesity. Individuals who have this condition may appear to have what most would consider to be a healthy/normal weight, but metabolically they share many of the same health characteristics as a person who is overweight or obese (hence, skinny fat).

High fat mass and low muscle mass are the defining characteristics of sarcopenic obesity. The reason these individuals can have a high fat mass without appearing obese is because not all fat is stored under the skin where we can see it. They likely have an excess of visceral fat, which is a less obvious internal fat. It develops in the abdominal cavity and gets stored around your organs (wrapping around your kidneys, intestines, stomach, and liver). Large amounts of visceral fat has been linked with a number of health risks, including these:

  • High cholesterol
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Insulin resistance (which can lead to type 2 diabetes)
  • Lower bone mineral density
  • Loss of cognitive function

Healthy Is The New Skinny

Skinny fat may be a somewhat comedic catch phrase, but the health risks are very real. Even scarier: since these individuals appear healthy (or at least healthier than those who are overweight), serious health concerns may be overlooked by conventional medical doctors.

But! There is good news. The lifestyle practices that often lead to these health concerns (lack of exercise, fatty foods, stress) can be improved. Below are the top three recommendations I share with my patients who are serious about ditching the scale and achieving long-term health and wellness:

Clinical Testing

Getting your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels checked is the only way to know for sure how healthy you are metabolically. A Functional Medicine Practitioner can run these tests and accurately determine your body fat-mass percentage to total body weight.

Reboot Your Routine

Sitting all day, eating an unhealthy diet, and skipping workouts is a recipe for muscle loss and fat gain.

Be mindful of your everyday habits – what you eat, how often you exercise – and make the changes you know you need.


Life can be stressful, and stress can cause your blood pressure to skyrocket. I recommend practicing deep relaxation daily. Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and massage can all help eliminate stress and promote relaxation.

Remember, getting healthy is about a lot more than a number on a scale. I would love to support you in achieving a truly healthy, vibrant life. Contact my office today so we can begin our work together.