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“Thin is in!” – In at the Cardiac Rehab Ward: An update on the”Skinny Fat” Syndrome and what BMI (Body Mass Index) REALLY means! October 24, 2010

Posted by fitmontclair in Fat Loss, Fitness, Health & Exercise, Montclair, Women's Health.
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Hi All,

This week we need to discus a VERY serious situation, namely that BMI (body mass index) is NOT a valid predictor of health or risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) ! The ridiculous BMI formula only uses the criteria of height and weight as predictor of risk for  major diseases such as CAD and Type II diabetes. The BMI also reinforces the idea that thin means healthy; for a lighter body weight produces a more favorable BMI.

The major flaw of the BMI is that it does not consider the percentages of tissues comprising the body. Everyone has different percentages of: muscle, bone, fat, water, organs, connective tissue, blood, blood vessels, and nerves comprising their weight. the ONLY one you want to be low is FAT (especially visceral fat around your organs). Of course many of you are now wondering why doctors and health care providers use BMI at all – simple, MONEY!!

Very few people have a low BMI – If you are fat it is high, if you are muscular it is high, if you have heavy bones and a large frame it is high. The more people with a high BMI, the more  “legitimate (?)” prescriptions & procedures can be written and performed. More prescriptions equates to BIGGER sales for the Pharmaceutical industry; High BMI’s and more prescriptions and surgical procedures result in higher Life Insurance premiums! It is a vicious circle designed to keep producing high profits for the above mentioned organizations  (For them BMI stands for Big Money Initiator!).

Skinny Fat & Osteopenia at age 37!!! All thanks to her IDIOT trainer…

I have posted before about the “Skinny Fat” Syndrome and how being thin with a low BMI does NOT guarantee you health or a long life! This really hit home last week when I found out my father-in-law was rushed to the hospital for a heart attack and emergency angioplasty;  He is recovering and has a very good prognosis.

The reason why I bring this up is that he is a man who has never been overweight in his life, he is active and exercises frequently. People would always refer to him as thin or skinny and he had a well within in normal range BMI. Also important is the fact that HE HAD NO WARNING SIGNS!!! (Note: you can have up to 65% blockage of an artery and still have a normal EKG and no warning signs).

His problem was although he followed what he believed to be a good diet (low fat, moderate carbs) and NEVER overate, it was not cardio protective and obviously lacking. I believe that the low quality of the food (non-organic) and high sugar intake at times (he is a self-admitted “chocoholic”)  lead to CAD and his eventual situation. To learn about the relationship of sugar & carbohydrates to CAD read my post  “Why you should listen to Dr. Robert Lustig or “How HFCS is Destroying America!” and make sure to watch the video of Robert Lustig, M.D. and download or listen to the audio interview with Dr. Lustig that has important updated info that he found out after the video was made.

Click here to read “The Myth of Aerobic Exercise” Parts 1 & 2 from Town Medical News

Compounding the matter is that my father-in-law only took up daily exercise later in life and preferred to do mostly low intensity aerobic activities.  My past articles in the Town Medical Associates newsletter explained how and why aerobic exercise is not always cardiovascular exercise and does NOT strengthen the cardiovascular system. My latest article reviews the Mayo Clinic 10 year study on body weight and CAD risk.

Click here to read “The Skinny Fat Syndrome or Why bodyweight has little to do with health!” from the Oct. Town Medical Associates Newsletter.

[Side note to all those who still think I give inaccurate info and make things up; LOOK at the Oct. Spotlight from the Town Medical Newsletter – do you think the doctors would back me if my information was inaccurate and my programs didn’t produce results. It must really be really hard for some of you to see every week that I produce more valid info and legitimate supporters! SORRY IF THE TRUTH HURTS…]

To expand on the idea that thin does not automatically mean fit & healthy we need to look at another fallacy: The idea of age i.e. being too young for CAD and those experiencing only moderate weight gain.  An additional study in 2010 by the Mayo Clinic found:

Healthy young people who put on as little as 9 pounds of fat, specifically in the abdomen, are at risk for developing endothelial cell dysfunction. Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and control the ability of the vessels to expand and contract. “Endothelial dysfunction has long been associated with an increased risk for coronary artery disease and cardiovascular events,” says Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic. “Gaining a few pounds in college, on a cruise, or over the holidays is considered harmless, but it can have cardiovascular implications, especially if the weight is gained in the abdomen.”

Click here for the article

For the study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Somers and his team recruited 43 healthy Mayo Clinic volunteers with a mean age of 29 years. They were tested for endothelial dysfunction by measuring the blood flow through their arm arteries. The volunteers were assigned to either gain weight or maintain their weight for eight weeks, and their blood flow was tested. The weight-gainers then lost the weight and were tested again.

Among those who gained weight in their abdomens (known as visceral fat), even though their blood pressure remained healthy, researchers found that the regulation of blood flow through their arm arteries was impaired due to endothelial dysfunction. Once the volunteers lost the weight, the blood flow recovered. Blood flow regulation was unchanged in the weight-maintainers and was less affected among those who gained weight evenly throughout their bodies.

Dr. Somers says the study is unable to offer conclusions about whether recovery of blood flow is possible if the weight is kept on for several years. “Patients should know that having a big belly may be more harmful than simply being obese,” he says. “Letting weight creep on during college or as the result of aging should NOT be accepted as normal”. AND

“Physicians should know that the location of fat is important. Greater attention should be given to the circumference of a patient’s waistline, not just their body mass index (BMI).” BMI is a formula that uses height and weight to estimate body fat and associated health risks. See, even the Mayo Clinic knows BMI is NOT ACCURATE!

Coming to Montclair soon!

Now before many of you portly & rotund Montclairians start thinking that since skinny does not mean healthy  that being overweight is suddenly less of a health risk, IT IS NOT!! One of the easiest measurements (FAR MORE ACCURATE THAN A BMI) is a simple waist circumference measurement as mentioned above by Dr. Somers. Having a large waist is associated with a host of potentially serious health issues, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and inflammation (arterial & systemic joint). According to a new study, it might also be linked to something else: DEATH!

Researchers from the Epidemiology Research Program of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta looked at data among 48,500 men and 56,343 women ages 50 and older who took part in the study . Most of the participants were white. In 1997, they supplied their weight and waist circumference. At the beginning of the study the average age was 69 for men and 67 for women.

The study participants were followed until 2006, at which point 9,315 men and 5,332 women had died. Having a very large waist – at least 47 inches for men and 43 inches for women – was associated with about TWICE the risk of death compared with men with waists measuring 35 inches or less and women with waists measuring 30 inches or less. The link was found through all BMI groups, but in women it was strongest among those who were normal weight. – See, again a scientific study shows how invalid BMI is as a predictor of health & disease risk! Weight & BMI have little to do with health; body fat percentage and waist circumference are more accurate!

Having visceral, or intra-abdominal fat, is considered to be a bigger health risk than fat underneath the skin, or subcutaneous fat, because visceral fat surrounds the internal organs. Researchers also found that men and women with the largest waist circumferences also tended to be less educated, have a high BMI, were physically inactive, used to smoke and had a history of cardiovascular or respiratory disease or cancer. The study was released in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Click here for the Study Abstract

So to summarize what we have learned:

  • Thin & low BMI is not a guarantee of health or fitness
  • BMI is NOT an accurate risk assessment tool (it is a money maker for big pharma, the AMA, and Life Insurance companies)
  • Youthful age does not protect against CAD
  • A small weight gain can have large adverse effects on the cardiovascular system
  • One of the best indicators of CAD risk is your waist circumference
  • Aerobic exercise is NOT always cardiovascular exercise!

So what does work to measure your health risk and what can you do to decrease CAD risk factors:

  • Getting your body fat  tested – Hydrostatic weighing, Plethysmography i.e. air displacement. (Bod pod),  and DEXA scan are the most accurate methods.
  • The mirror & tape measure, they are MORE useful and accurate in predicting CAD risk than BMI (but still not full proof)
  • Doing cardiovascular and NOT  aerobic exercise (make sure you know the difference!)
  • AVOIDING sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), and high carbohydrate – GRAIN BASED DIETS  i.e. The USDA Food Pyramid!
  • Increasing lean body mass through resistance training ! It is MORE beneficial to overall health then just performing aerobic work and dieting (both of which REDUCE lean body mass and lead to becoming “Skinny Fat”!)
  • Starting a comprehensive fitness & nutrition program EARLY before problems set in!

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me!

Once again I hope I made you think; Remember your health is in your hands!


Next week look for a special HALLOWEEN postThe 13 SCARIEST exercises I see being done in gyms!



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