“Overfat” More Prevalent Than Overweight, Obesity Worldwide

HealthDay News — Traditional measurements do not fully capture the high rates of “overfat” individuals in developed countries, according to a study published online in Frontiers in Public Health.

In the analysis of 30 developed countries, researchers determined that the estimate of overfat is substantially higher than the prevalence of overweight and obese adults and children worldwide. “The problem is particularly pervasive in the English-speaking countries of the United States and New Zealand, but also in Iceland and even Greece where people are generally thought to be healthy,” according to a journal news release.

Even many physically active people in the United States, including professional athletes and US military personnel, may be overfat, the researchers said in the news release. Traditional methods of measuring weight or body mass index are ineffective in assessing whether a person is overfat, the study authors said. They recommend measuring the waistline: If the waist measure is more than half the height, a person is overfat.

“Regardless of body mass index values, overfat individuals have excess body fat, a high degree of cardiometabolic dysregulation that can promote disease risk factors and chronic disease, increased morbidity and mortality, reduced quality of life, and pose a rising economic burden,” the authors write. “As an unfulfilled public health action, it is crucial to clinically identify individuals who are overfat in order to implement successful treatment and prevention strategies.”

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Maffetone PB, Rivera-Dominguez I, Laursen PB. Overfat adults and children in developed countries: the public health importance of identifying excess body fat [published online July 24, 2017]. Front Public Health. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2017.00190