Up to 90 percent of adults in US and UK “overfat,” study finds

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25 Jul 2017 --- The severity and implications of the global obesity pandemic have been well-documented for several years now. However, new research has drawn particular attention to the dangers and prevalence of overfat, or the presence of excess body fat that can impair health, even for non-obese individuals with a healthy BMI. The prevalence of overfat populations in 30 of the world’s most developed countries is substantially higher than recent global estimations, the report says, with the largest growth due to a relatively recent increased number of people with excess abdominal fat. 

The study, published in Frontiers in Public Health by researchers from Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand and San Diego, draws particular attention to abdominal overfat, as it is the most unhealthful form of this condition. 

Notably, the prevalence of overfat is at an alarmingly high rate of over 90 percent in adult males and up to 50 percent in children in the UK, US, New Zealand, Greece and Iceland.

On average, the prevalence of overfat adults and children in developed countries is extremely high, and substantially greater than that of overweight and obese individuals.

Click to EnlargeDespite the obesity condition appearing to be leveling off in some developed countries, the overfat pandemic continues to grow, the researchers say.

Moreover, in tandem with an increase in average waist circumference, a recent rise in the incidence of abdominal adiposity, the unhealthiest form of excess body fat, has been observed in both adults and children.

Being overfat is linked to a range of health conditions including various forms of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, gout, pulmonary diseases and sleep apnea

The research also points to the importance of looking further than BMI values. Clinicians and researchers usually rely on BMI (which does not directly estimate body fat) to define the presence of adiposity or obesity.

However, large-scale studies among the US population have shown that BMI has a limited diagnostic performance in correctly identifying individuals with excess body fat, with BMI missing more than half of the people with obesity as defined by body fat percentage.

“Regardless of BMI 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 report concludes. “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.”

by Lucy Gunn

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