Can some people really eat what they like and never get fat?

Appearances can be deceptive. 

Some people — because of their genes or their microbiota (the bacteria that live in our gut) — can look slim no matter what they eat. However, if people consume a lot of junk or processed food — even if they never get visibly fat — they are still at risk of accumulating fat around their internal organs and inside their liver — which can only be seen on an MRI scan. This is known as visceral fat or VAT. There is even a medical term for the condition: TOFI — an acronym for Thin on the Outside but Fat on the Inside. If a person has hidden visceral fat, it puts them at risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

In contrast, the wobbly bits under your arms or around your hips are harmless. 

The bottom line is that what you eat is more important than how much you weigh. Someone who eats well but carries excess body fat is healthier than someone who eats junk but stays slim. This was recently confirmed by a 20 year study of 80 000 people which looked at the link between BMI (Body Mass Index), eating a Mediterranean-style diet, and risk of death. It turned out that overweight people who followed a Mediterranean-style diet had a lower risk of dying than people who were considered a healthy weight but ate few fruits and vegetables and didn’t cook much at home. Eating nutritious food compensates for carrying excess fat. A good news story.

Click here to listen to my conversation about TOFI and VAT with Julie Clift on ABC radio Gold Coast. We also discuss the health benefits of home-made salad dressings and why Goldilocks was a health guru!

Please forward this Health-e-Byte to anyone who is worried about their weight.

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