Wait, What Is “Overfat,” And Why Is It A Thing?

When we first started to read headlines about a “new” condition called “overfat,” we couldn’t help but roll our eyes. Oh, great, we thought. Yet another term we can use to speak derogatorily about ourselves (e.g., “I’m not fat—I’m overfat!”) Unfortunately, this appears to be something those of us who carry weight in our bellies actually do need to worry about. What it means has little to do with your body mass index (BMI) or even your weight. Instead, it concerns the type of fat you have on your body and whether or not it is specifically harmful to your health. Studies have shown that belly fat, even on otherwise skinny people, can be more deadly than obesity, as the fat stored in your stomach actually wraps itself around your organs. (Say what?!) Your liver takes the fat and turns it into cholesterol, which can then harden in your arteries.

If you’re panicking right now because you carry weight in your belly, you’re not alone. A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health says there are more overfat individuals in the top 30 industrialized countries than there are obese and overweight people combined. It goes on to state that 80% of women in these countries, including the US, are overfat. Yikes!

So, how do you know if you should be worried about your belly weight? The study’s authors suggest measuring the circumference around your belly button. If that number is half of your height or less, you’re fine. If not, you may qualify as overfat and have some cause for concern. Another easy measure, according to CNN, involves simply eyeballing your figure. If your waist is bigger than your hips, you may have an issue.

While this isn’t exactly good news, the bright side of this worrisome study is that it provides further evidence that the numbers on our scales do not really matter or, at the very least, aren’t the most important measure to consider when it comes to your health. If you think you may have an overfat issue, however, we suggest speaking with your doctor and/or nutritionist about ways to best manage the situation for optimal health.