Dr. David Chim

Family Medicine Department

The term “skinny fat” has been used quite a bit among people interested in health and nutrition.  Knowing such a term would not exist in traditional medical sources, I looked it up online and decided I will go with Urban Dictionary’s number two definition: “A person who is not overweight and have skinny looks, but still have a high fat percentage and low muscular mass.”  We often see an over-emphasis of fat-to-lean mass ratios in things like gym evaluations, or specialty centers that try to tell you how much of this ratio is “healthy” for your age.  While such reports provide interesting information, please remember they are not medical evaluations.


Try to stick with proper medical evaluations that do deal with “skinny fat”-related topics.  First, there is a key topic of visceral fat, which means fat that is very close to your organs.  Instead of worrying about fat near all your organs, focus on an ultrasound exam that measures how much fat is near your liver.  This is very helpful as a baseline, and can be monitored afterwards.  The second key topic is fat in your blood; this is medically measured by taking blood samples from you in the morning when you skipped breakfast.  This blood gives us an accurate measurement of the different kinds of “fats” traveling in your blood stream.  This information (aka “lipid blood profile”), when combined with other clinical information, is particularly helpful in predicting your chance of having heart attacks in the future.  Since you made the effort to fast, it is also a great time to check your blood sugar for conditions such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome.


Everybody in modern society pretty much understands you should avoid eating processed foods and living a sedentary lifestyle.  The question is whether your current level of healthy living is enough.  That’s why it is useful to do check-ups when you have time.  That way you can track your (hopefully) improvement from your hard work in your daily healthy living.  The main idea is that you cannot adequately measure your health and fitness with only monitoring your weight—you really do need to check more than that.


So let’s be proactive and avoid “skinny fat” and all the medical problems associated with it. Try to talk with doctors and nutritionists about tests you can do, as well as lifestyle strategies that works for you as an individual to improve and maintain health.


Why should we care about “Skinny Fat”?