Hidden obesity affects more than 80% of Westerners

Obesity is a global pandemic that causes heart disease, diabetes or increases the risk of cancer. Now a group of researchers has estimated that it may be more widespread than previously thought. A recent article in the journal Frontiers in Public Health estimates that in developed countries up to 90% of adult males, 80% of females and 50% of children have a problem fat percentage for their health.

The usual way to measure whether a person has a healthy weight is the known body mass index, which associates a person’s height and weight. But as has been known for some time, this formula does not always help predict whether a person is going to experience health problems associated with being overweight. The best indicator is excess fat. Several studies have found that many individuals who are considered thin or slightly overweight but have a high-fat percentage have blood pressure, insulin or inflammation levels of someone with obesity.

However, with the usual measures now, many people with problems would go unnoticed for doctors. A team of researchers led by Shang-Ping Hung of Chi Mei Hospital in Liouying, Taiwan, observed in a group of women between the ages of 20 and 26 that 70% of those with excess body fat would have passed through healthy Looking at your body mass index.

In a study of young women, 70% of those who would have been healthy, had problematic fat levels

The authors of the paper, which is now published in Frontiers in Public Health, led by Paul B. Laursen of Auckland Polytechnic University, advocate changing the definition of obesity and not focusing on body weight but fat. As a way to get an idea of ​​whether you have overfat is that the waist circumference is greater than half the height. However, accurately measuring body fat levels would require technologically more complex methods such as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.

With these measures, they also call into question the idea that in some countries like the US, the growth of obesity is slowing down. There, it is estimated to have stabilized in 35% of men, but has grown to 40% among women. However, the number of people who have percentages of body fat that can be harmful to health continues to increase, they say. In a previous global estimate, they estimated that between 62% and 76% of the world’s population have this problem. The figures are somewhat lower than the current ones because they included less developed countries.

These efforts to shift the focus from weight to fat are not new. Already in 2013, a team from the University of Navarre conducted a study with 6,000 people from which they calculated that up to 29% of people thin according to their BMI would be obese if they attended to their amount of fat. They also estimated that 80% of people who according to their BMI fall into the overweight category would be obese.

According to the references offered by the Spanish university, a person has a normal body fat composition when it has an index below 20% in men and 30% in women; Is overweight when the value of their equation is between 20 and 25% in men and between 30 and 35% in women and are considered obese men with an index above 25% and women over 35 % Of body fat composition.

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